England’s Lee Westwood closed strong Saturday, using an eagle and a birdie over his final three holes to take a one-shot lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Orlando, Fla.
Bryson DeChambeau, the runner-up at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, finished one shot off Westwood’s lead, tied at 10-under at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge with second-round leader Corey Conners of Canada. Jordan Spieth and Keegan Bradley stand another shot back at 9-under.
Westwood, a European Tour regular who last won on the PGA Tour in 2010, drained a 28-foot putt at the 18th hole to move to 11-under 205 total, and finish off a third-round score of 7-under 65. That birdie came two holes after he drained a 32-foot putt from the back fringe at 16 for an eagle 3.
“It’s key at 18 to hit the fairway,” Westwood said on the NBC broadcast. “That was one of my best drives of the day straight up the middle and it left me a 7-iron to the green. I tried to keep it under the hole, short of the hole, and rolled the putt in. I picked a good line, rolled it over my spot and it went in.”
At 47 years old, Westwood is playing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the 14th time. He has won just twice on the PGA Tour, and his last international win came in January 2020 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, his 25th career victory on the European Tour.
After starting the day in a tie for sixth place, DeChambeau moved up the leaderboard with a 4-under 68 that included four birdies and a bogey on the front nine.
The most memorable of DeChambeau’s front-nine birdies came at the par-5 sixth hole that wraps around a lake. Instead of following the fairway, he carried most of the lake on a 370-yard drive that shaved off so much real estate, it left him 70 yards from the hole.
“I was definitely nervous,” DeChambeau said about taking a line over the lake that needed over 300 yards of carry to execute. “I caught it pretty solid, and it was definitely 10 mph downwind. I was like, ‘Go!’ I didn’t know how else to react. I think it might have gotten to the green if I hit it more toward the green.”
DeChambeau moved to 10-under with a birdie at No. 12 then closed with a bogey, birdie and two pars over his final four holes.
Conners started the day with a one-shot lead over Scotland’s Martin Laird but was unable to gather any momentum. He had two bogeys and two birdies on the front nine, while going 1-under on the back with a birdie at No. 12.
Spieth had a roller-coaster third round, starting the day four shots off Conners’ lead. He was 3-under after two holes Saturday thanks to a hole in one at the 222-yard second hole. He added another birdie on the front nine before two bogeys and two birdies on the back to shoot a 4-under 68.
“What a dream start,” Spieth said. “Honestly, if you told me on the No. 3 tee that if I was to play the course 1-under from there with (windy, cool weather) forecasted, I would have signed up for it. I kind of leaked oil coming in today and didn’t swing the driver well.”
Bradley was swinging it well. In fact, he was swinging it better than anybody with an 8-under 64 that was the low round of the day. It was tied for the fourth lowest round at the tournament since 1983.
Bradley played the front nine at 5-under, including an eagle 3 at No. 6. He closed his round with birdies at 16 and 18, hitting his second shot at the final hole to 10 feet.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood stands alone in sixth place at 8-under, while Doug Ghim, Richy Werenski, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond all were tied for seventh place at 7 under.
Along with Spieth, Janewattananond also had an ace on Saturday, making his at the 212-yard 14th hole.
–Field Level Media