WGC-Mexico Championship 2019: Dustin Johnson Extends Lead After Round 3

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2019

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 23: Dustin Johnson of the United States acknowledges the crowd on the third green during the third round of World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec on February 23, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson remained atop the leaderboard at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Saturday, as he shot a five-under 66 in the third round.

Johnson sits at 16-under for the tournament, and he will enter the fourth round at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Naucalpan, Mexico, with a four-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy. Here is a rundown of the leaderboard courtesy of PGATour.com:

1. Dustin Johnson: -16 (66)

2. Rory McIlroy: -12 (68)

T3. Patrick Reed: -9 (64)

T3. Patrick Cantlay: -9 (65)

T3. Sergio Garcia: -9 (69)

T3. Cameron Smith: -9 (68)

T7. Ian Poulter: -8 (69)

T7. Kiradech Aphibarnrat: -8 (68)

T9. David Lipsky: -6 (68)

T9. Louis Oosthuizen: -6 (69)

T9. Tiger Woods: -6 (70)

T9. Tommy Fleetwood: -6 (72)

After carding nothing worse than a par over the first two rounds of the tournament, Johnson did have a double bogey Saturday, but he made up for it with five birdies and an eagle.

According to Golf Channel's Justin Ray, DJ can join some elite company if he manages to close things out and win the WGC-Mexico Championship, which would mark the 20th PGA Tour victory of his career:

Johnson is already a two-time winner of the event, and another win on Sunday will make him just the second golfer to win the WGC-Mexico Championship at least three times, joining Tiger Woods and his seven victories.

Throughout Saturday's round, Johnson took advantage of par-five holes and short par-fours with his power off the tee. That was especially apparent on No. 2 when he drove the green and converted an eagle putt from a few feet away:

Johnson then birdied No. 5 and made the turn at three-under on the day. It wasn't long after that he faced his first true adversity of the tournament, however.

The 34-year-old veteran ended up in the trees on the par-four 10th and struggled to get out, which resulted in a double-bogey six:

Prior to that, Johnson hadn't even carded a bogey in the entire tournament, but he was suddenly reeling and in danger of getting chased down by McIlroy.

Johnson did manage to turn things around quickly, though, with birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 15 and 17 to get back the two strokes he lost and gain two more.

After falling out of the lead Friday and struggling to a one-under round of 70, McIlroy was a bit better Saturday, and he maintained his standing in second place. Even so, McIlroy did have an up-and-down round that featured plenty of bogeys.

McIlroy opened with a bogey and followed it up with two birdies before bogeying both No. 7 and No. 8. He got moving in the right direction on No. 9, though, when he made a long birdie putt to make the turn at even-par on the day:

The Northern Irishman birdied again on No. 10, and he appeared to be off and running:

After carding a third straight birdie on the 11th, McIlroy bogeyed No. 14, but he birdied the 15th and 16th to keep pace with Johnson.

McIlroy is by far Johnson's closest competition entering Sunday's final round, but he'll have to keep an eye on some other golfers who made a move Saturday. Chief among them are Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay.

Reed had the best round of the day with a seven-under 64, and it was highlighted by a pair of eagles. The first came on the par-four second when he chipped in after driving it just short of the green:

The 2018 Masters champion also eagled the par-five 11th after playing it one-over through the first two rounds of the tournament:

Reed did have three bogeys, but his two eagles and six birdies helped him to the low round of the day, and he closed strong with birdies on each of his final three holes.

Cantlay wasn't far behind Reed on Saturday, as he shot a six-under 65, which has him tied for third with Reed, Sergio Garcia and Cameron Smith.

The biggest and wildest highlight of Cantlay's round came on the par-four 12th when he nearly sunk an ace while another golfer was putting. Cantlay went on to eagle the hole:

While Reed and Cantlay flew up the leaderboard, Tiger Woods failed to make much progress during the third round. Although he finished with six birdies on the day, Woods was only able to muster a one-under 70.

That is because he also carded three bogeys and one double bogey. The double came on the par-five 15th, and it was courtesy of a four-putt:

Per Ray, four-putts have been few and far between over the course of Woods' legendary career:

While Woods struggled at times Saturday and will enter the final round in a tie for ninth, his issues paled in comparison to those of Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar was tied for second with McIlroy at the start of the day, but he ended the round in a tie for 30th after shooting an eight-over 79 to end up at one-under for the tournament.

Although Kuchar won't be in contention Sunday, there will be no shortage of big names in the mix with McIlroy, Reed and Garcia among those who are within striking distance of Johnson.

Given his four-stroke lead over McIlroy and a seven-stroke lead over the next closest competitors, however, there is no question that the WGC-Mexico Championship is Johnson's tournament to lose.

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