Sam Burns, bidding for his maiden PGA Tour title, shrugged off a shaky start to hold a one-shot lead after the third round of the Houston Open on Saturday while world number one Dustin Johnson lurked three shots back in his final Masters tune-up.
Overnight leader Burns birdied three of his last six holes at Memorial Park Golf Course for a two-under-par 68 that brought him to nine under on the week at Memorial Park Golf Course.
“I don’t know what to tomorrow has in store for me, but I think we’re just going to go out there and stick with the game plan that we’ve had all week,” said Burns. “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, great, and go from there.”
Australian former world number one Jason Day, who missed an eight-foot par putt at the final hole, and Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, were each one shot off the pace after matching 67s.
Burns, who missed the Houston Open cut last year, had two early bogeys but quickly turned things around with a birdie at the par-four fourth and an eagle at the par-five eighth where he holed out from 87 feet.
The American, whose career-best finish is a share of third at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship, then bogeyed two of his next three holes but responded with three birdies over a sizzling four-hole stretch to put himself back in front.
Johnson, in his first event since testing positive for COVID-19 in mid-October, which interrupted one of the best stretches of golf in his career, enjoyed a bogey-free trip around Memorial Park and feels good about next week’s Masters.
“It’s nice to get out and get some reps,” he said after a four-under 66. “The game’s feeling really good going into next week and obviously we’ve still got another day tomorrow and I feel like I’m in a good position with a chance to win.”