Korea’s Si Woo Kim shot a 5-under 67 at The American Express on Saturday to share the third round lead with Max Homa and Tony Finau.
If his putter had behaved, he could have put some daylight between him and his rivals.
The 25-year-old Kim snared five birdies against no bogeys at PGA West Stadium Course to tie for the lead on 15-under 201 and give himself an opportunity to win a third PGA TOUR victory, his last being THE PLAYERS Championship in 2017.
Homa, who has one career title, carded a 65 which featured nine birdies and a double bogey while Finau returned a 67 highlighted by eight birdies as he chases a second victory some five years on from his maiden success.
Second round leader Sungjae Im had three water balls en route to a disappointing 73, including two on the ninth hole which led to a triple bogey seven.
Despite opening his round with birdie-birdie, he slipped back to tied 20th place on 206.
Kim made birdies on Hole Nos. 3, 5, 12, 14 and 16 but rued missed opportunities on the greens.
He missed putts of six feet on the seventh hole, 11 feet on 10, seven feet on 11 and 11 feet on 17. It will be the fourth time he has held the third round lead/co-lead, converting one which was his maiden TOUR victory at the 2016 Wyndham Championship.
“Really nice round of golf today, five birdie and no bogeys around this golf course. Not making a bogey is pretty good stuff. Everything feels okay and the last two days, I was putting pretty good but it’s not the best today. I hope it will work tomorrow,” said Kim, who is ranked 114th in Strokes Gained: Putting through three rounds.
With one top-10- and two top-25s this season, Kim, who finished T9 here in 2016, said some recent work done with swing coach Claude Harmon has allowed him to freewheel his golf game at PGA West, hence his strong showing thus far.
“Week before, my coach came out here and then he checked my swing and it feels much better and much more comfortable,” said the Korean.
“I hope I can be more patient tomorrow and then try to relax and then not be too aggressive, that’s my goal tomorrow.”
Countryman Byeong Hun An bounced back from a disappointing second round 73 by shooting six birdies against a lone bogey for a 67 which pushed him up to tied 13th position, four behind the co-leaders.
Despite hitting only 11 greens in regulation, the 29-year-old An gave himself an outside chance to challenge for a maiden PGA TOUR on Sunday.
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, January 23, 2021
Max Homa 66-70-65—201 (-15) NT-SC
Si Woo Kim 66-68-67—201 (-15) SC-NT
Tony Finau 68-66-67—201 (-15) SC-NT
Richy Werenski 69-68-65—202 (-14) NT-SC