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Power just two shots off the lead ahead of American Express final round

The West Waterford man carded a superb 66 to move up to fourth place on the leaderboard in California.

Seamus Power reacts after hitting from the 13th tee during the third round of the American Express tournament.
Seamus Power reacts after hitting from the 13th tee during the third round of the American Express tournament.
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez

ROOKIES PAUL BARJON and Lee Hodges defied blustery winds in the California desert on Saturday to share the third-round lead in the US PGA Tour American Express, each in search of a first tour title.

France’s Barjon, a 29-year-old ranked 313rd in the world, carded a seven-under 65 and 26-year-old American Lee Hodges, who played alongside him, posted an eight-under 64 as the duo took a one-shot lead on 18-under 198.

American Tom Hoge was a shot back after a 68 for 199, with Ireland’s Seamus Power alone in fourth after continuing his superb form with a 66 that moved the 34-year-old to 16-under for the tournament.

At the La Quinta Country Club course, the West Waterford native briefly had a share of the lead after posting an eagle at the sixth, which followed a run of four consecutive birdies. He also also putted from 45 feet for a birdie on 15.

Power, who cracked the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time by finishing joint-third at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, is chasing his second PGA Tour victory, having achieved a breakthrough win at the Barbasol Championship last July.

Barjon and Hodges put on an impressive display on the Stadium Course, the toughest of three in use for the tournament and the one where Sunday’s final round will be played.

They teed off on the 10th hole and Barjon nabbed eight birdies with one bogey, while Hodges had eight birdies in his bogey-free round.

Barjon got going quickly, giving himself a one-foot birdie putt at the 10th, and draining an eight-footer at the eighth before he rolled in a 23-foot birdie at the 13th. He picked up a stroke at 16 before an errant tee shot on 17 led to his lone bogey of the day.

Barjon rebounded with a 20-foot birdie putt at the fourth, then birdied the fifth, seventh and eighth to keep pace with his playing partner.

Hodges birdied 11 and 17 to make the turn at two-under for the day, then rolled in birdie putts of 11, 12 and 17 feet at the first, second and third. He birdied the par-five fifth, then matched Barjon’s birdies at seven and eight.

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Six players were tied for fifth on 201 and another four on 202 — a group that included FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay.

Overnight leader Cantlay fired an even-par 72 that included a rollercoaster front nine of four bogeys and three birdies, getting back to level for the day with his only birdie on the back nine at the 16th.

A third-round 73 leaves Graeme McDowell in a tie for 45th, 10 strokes off the pace.

– © AFP 2022

Additional reporting by Paul Dollery

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