DJ charges into Saudi International lead with third-round 61

DJ charges into Saudi International lead with third-round 61

Metro Golf Notes Story courtesy of European Tour
image (Photo by Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson made seven birdies and an eagle in a spectacular bogey-free 61 to take a three-shot halfway lead in the Saudi International.

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia -- Dustin Johnson demonstrated his class with a stunning nine under par second round of 61 to lead the inaugural Saudi International by three shots at the halfway stage.

The American took full advantage of the benign morning conditions at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to move to 11 under par for the tournament, ahead of China’s Haotong Li (65) and South Africa’s Zander Lombard (67) who share second place at 8 under.

Johnson started strong, beginning his round with consecutive birdies after starting on the 10th tee, and he added a further five birdies along with an eagle on the par five fourth hole, where he sank a 30-foot putt from the fringe.

“It was really good,” Johnson said. “Obviously, you always have fun when you're playing well, but I did a lot of the same things I did yesterday. The greens rolled a little bit better today. I felt like I paid a lot more attention to exactly what the putts were going to do and just tried to make sure I just trusted the line that I was playing and made some putts today. I drove it really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities.

“I like the golf course. If I keep driving it like the way I am right now -- I switched to the M6 driver this week, and I really like it. I'm driving it really well right now, so if I keep hitting it in the fairway, I'm going to really like this golf course.”

The world No. 3 was in imposing form as he put daylight between himself and the rest of the world-class field, which includes last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner Bryson DeChambeau, who goes into the weekend seven shots back at 4 under par after his second consecutive 68.

Reigning Masters Champion Patrick Reed, who was presented with Honorary Life Membership on the European Tour after his round, rallied on the back nine with three birdies in his final five holes to ensure he will also be in action at the weekend, but he will have to make up nine shots on his Ryder Cup teammate Johnson.

Top-ranked Justin Rose will be absent for the final two rounds, though, following a 72 that left him 2 over par, two shots adrift of the cut.

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