Hoffman keeps Bay Hill lead with 70-foot birdie

MIAMI • Rory McIlroy made a charge into contention but Charley Hoffman closed with a 70-foot birdie putt to match Kevin Kisner for the lead after Saturday's third round of golf's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Overnight leader Hoffman (71) curled in the shot of the tournament at the US PGA event on Orlando's famed Bay Hill course, to cap a closing run of three consecutive birdies to join his fellow American on 11-under 205 after 54 holes.

McIlroy, preparing his bid for a Masters win next month that would give him a career Grand Slam, fired a seven-under 65 to stand on 210 in a share of eighth after a 74-71 start to the week.

"I just played better, holed some putts," said the world No. 3. "It's a score I was waiting on. I felt it was in there. It was just a matter of putting it all together and today I did."

Kisner (68) missed the green to bogey the par-three second but answered with four birdies over the next six holes, his longest birdie putt in the run from 18 feet at the par-four third. He opened the back nine with another birdie and added another at the par-five 16th but missed a seven-foot par putt in bogeying the par-four 18th.

"I've learned these guys don't back up, so you've still got to make birdies and attack," he said.

His last-hole mishap opened the door for Hoffman, who opened with back-to-back bogeys and added another pair at 14 and 15. But he ended with a seven-foot birdie at the 16th, a 12-footer at the par-three 17th and his shocker at No. 18.

England's Tyrrell Hatton (67) was among a pack in third, three shots adrift on 208, which included compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick (72) and Australian Marc Leishman (71).

In Phoenix, Sweden's Anna Nordqvist set a tournament course record with an 11-under 61 to take the lead at the LPGA Tour's Founders Cup after the third round.

The fear matched her career- best score set in the third round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in 2013. The previous-best tournament round score was a 62.

She reached 21-under 195 and has a two-stroke lead over the co-leaders after the second round - Ariya Jutanugarn (66) of Thailand and American Stacy Lewis (66).

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LPGA FOUNDERS CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Hoffman keeps Bay Hill lead with 70-foot birdie'. Print Edition | Subscribe