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Grillo clings to PGA Mayakoba lead as rivals close gap

·3-min read
Argentina's Emiliano Grillo fired a three-under par 68 to keep a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Mayakoba Classic in Mexico

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo clung to a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the PGA Mayakoba Classic with Americans Justin Thomas, Adam Long and Tom Hoge and Norway's Viktor Hovland charging into contention.

Grillo, who began the day with a four-stroke lead, fired a three-under par 68 to stand on 16-under 197 after 54 holes at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

"It's a positive thing -- start on the lead, finish on the lead. That's the idea," Grillo said. "One more of those. That's the plan tomorrow, finish with the lead."

Hoge, chasing his first PGA victory, birdied five of the last six holes to grab second on 198 while Hovland matched his career-low PGA round with a 63 for third on 199.

"I really tried to be determined to make good, confident swings and putting strokes the whole way in," Hoge said. "Got a few going finally."

Long was fourth on 200 after a 63 and Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, fired a bogey-free 62 to share fifth on 201 with Patrick Rodgers.

World number 171 Grillo, who matched a PGA career-low with a 63 on Friday, opened with a birdie and added more at the par-5 fifth and seventh holes.

But after bogeys at the par-3 10th and par-4 12th, his lead was trimmed to a single shot.

Grillo, whose only PGA title came at the 2015 Frys.com Open, responded with birdies at the par-5 13th and par-3 15th, rolling in an eight-foot putt to stretch to lead to two over Hovland, taking his first 54-lead on the tour.

"You just try to do the same over and over," Grillo said. "I'll try to shoot under par tomorrow and see if it's enough. You just have to go play your best and beat everybody else."

Hovland opened bogey-birdie, birdied four of the last five holes on the front nine and four of the final six on the back nine to grab second.

"I was able to hit a lot of good iron shots and had a lot of good looks at birdies, and missed my fair share of them to be honest," Hovland said.

"I feel like I've given myself a better chance to have rounds like these more often. I'm chipping a little bit better and putting a little bit better. I don't have to have as many things go well to shoot a 63."

Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, began his round on the back nine and birdied three of his first five holes then added another at 17 and closed with birdies on five of six holes before reaching 18, where he missed the green but saved par with an eight-foot putt.

After starting the day 10 adrift and upset with his second round, Thomas attacked the course and it paid off.

"I really just tried to go out there, didn't have a game plan or mentality, just wanted to out there and make birdies and attack," Thomas said.

"I try not to get wrapped up in what I'm doing. I'm trying to birdie every single hole. If you can hit your numbers and get the ball in the fairway, you can really bomb it."

- Finau aces fourth hole -

Long birdied seven of the first nine holes, leaping into second place by starting with back-to-back birdies and reeling off five in a row from the fifth hole.

Long, whose only PGA title came at the 2019 Desert Classic, took his first bogey at the par-4 11th but answered with birdies at the par-4 14th and 17th.

"I had a feeling I had to go low to even stay close," Long said. "I had a good run there and it was nice to see those putts go in.

Tony Finau aced the par-3 fourth with a gap wedge and shot 69 to finish in a seventh-place pack on 202.

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