By Tim Wharnsby
OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) – American Brandt Snedeker made an easy-looking eagle at the par-five 18th at the Canadian Open on Saturday to put himself in position for his second win of the season.
Snedeker, the 2013 champion, also moved within sight of a second win at Glen Abbey with his third-round 66 in hot and dry conditions.
At nine-total of 207, he has a one-stroke lead over U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson (71) and 21-year-old Canadian amateur Jared du Toit (70) heading into the final round.
Snedeker started strong with five straight birdies, beginning at the second hole, and finished with an eagle after slugging a 378-yard drive downwind and sticking a lob wedge approach to seven feet behind the hole.
His form is timely heading into the final major of the year, the PGA Championship at Baltusrol next week.
“My golf game’s not been where it should have been the last couple months,” said the 35-year-old Snedeker, who won the San Diego tour stop in February.
“I want to go out there and think well tomorrow, give myself a chance, give me a lot of confidence going into the PGA Championship, FedEx Cup playoffs and help me secure a Ryder Cup spot. There’s a lot on the line tomorrow.”
Snedeker beat Johnson by three shots at Glen Abbey in 2013, after the latter hit his tee shot out of bounds at the 17th.
But because the upstart du Toit, playing in the group in front of Johnson, matched Snedeker’s eagle at the 18th, the Canadian and Snedeker will be paired instead on Sunday.
Johnson has five straight top-10 showings, including wins at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
But he was not sharp in a third round that included four birdies and three bogeys at the fast and firm course.
“The conditions were pretty difficult,” Johnson said. “It was windy. I had a hard time adjusting to the greens. I think they put a lot of water on them. It seemed like some greens were really soft, some greens were hard.”
American Steve Wheatcroft and German Alex Cejka were tied for fourth, two shots off the lead. Wheatcroft carded an eight-under 64, the low round of the day, while Cejka sunk an 85-footer for eagle at the closing hole for his 69.
“My goal was just let’s do a nice two-putt and finish it off,” Cejka said. “Obviously, that was a big, big bonus, unexpected. That’s perfect. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)