Aussie Leishman, US rookie Wise share PGA Byron Nelson lead

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Australian Marc Leishman grinded through and clung to a share of the lead with US rookie Aaron Wise after Saturday's windy third round of the US PGA Byron Nelson tournament.

The 34-year-old Aussie, who won the most recent of his three tour titles at last year's BMW Championship, fired a two-under par 69 to stand alongside 21-year-old Wise on 17-under 196 after 54 holes at the par-71 Trinity Forest layout south of Dallas.

Leishman opened with a career-best 61 on Thursday but blustery weather kept him fighting just to stay in the front.

"Very different conditions to what it was Thursday afternoon," Leishman said. "The course is firming up. A lot windier. Pretty happy with the way I fought back out there after a slow start."

Leishman's lone bogey came on the par-3 second. He answered with a seven-foot birdie putt at the fourth then caught fire again on the back nine, sinking a nine-foot par putt at 13, a 13-foot birdie putt at the par-5 14th and an 11-foot birdie putt at the 15th.

"You're hitting such different clubs off tees. You just have to adapt to that. I feel like I learned a lot out there and hopefully I can use that to win tomorrow," Leishman said.

"Hopefully I can drive it well. And you've got to hole the putts. Aaron is playing well. Hopefully I'll do my best tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Wise fired a 68 to grab the first lead or co-lead of his career after 54 holes. He comes off a career-best PGA finish of second two weeks ago at Quail Hollow and he found himself with raised levels of what he wanted Saturday.

"I almost felt like I had expectations," Wise said. "I expected more from myself. Felt like I turned it around. Three-under is a good score around here."

Wise went birdie-bogey twice in the first six holes, then birdied the par-5 seventh and closed the front nine with a 12-foot birdie putt.

After six consecutive pars, Wise dropped his approach inside three feet at the 16th and sank the birdie putt, then dropped another from nine feet at 17 to seize a one-stroke lead. But he closed with another bogey, missing a 10-footer for par, and finished level with Leishman entering the final round.

"To play as well as I did down the stretch (at Quail Hollow) gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow," Wise said. "I feel good about it knowing I've been in the situation before."

- Aussie Jones in the hunt -

Aussie Matt Jones, seeking his first top-10 US PGA effort since 2015, and American Kevin Na shared a distant third four strokes adrift on 200 with Americans Brian Gay and Jimmy Walker on 201.

Jones, a 38-year-old Sydneysider, won his only US PGA event in Texas at the 2014 Houston Open. He shot 68 Saturday.

"It's always nice to get into contention," Jones said. "If I play like I did today and it blows again, you never know what can happen.

"I gave myself a lot of birdie putts that didn't go in. If I keep doing that and make some, I'll be a lot closer than I am."