McDowell signed for a two-under-par 69 to jump 15 places and into a tie for 45th place ahead of the closing round in the $7.3m event at Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean west coast region in Mexico.
McDowell, and for a third day running, birdied the opening hole on the card in landing a 149-yard second shot to six-feet for a birdie ‘3’ before undoing his good first hole work with back-to-back bogeys at four and five
He played the par-4 eighth hole superbly, and without biting off too much in clearing the water to find the fairway, and while still some 233-yards to the flag, McDowell pulled off a gem of a second shot, landing to 10-feet and delighting in holing the birdie ‘3’.
G Mac then was some 31-feet from the flag at the island green, par-3 13th and again, sent his ball to the bottom of the cup to move to one-under for his round. Then at the next, the par-5 14th, McDowell found the front of the green in two ahead of two-putting from 70-feet for the fourth birdie of his day.
McDowell heads into the final round trailing 11 shots behind World No. 2 Jon Rahm, and with the reigning US Open champ, looking to now win for a first time since becoming the first Spaniard to win a US Open.
Rahm headed into day three leading by two but managed to maintain that margin despite an indifferent putting display and helped by his nearest challengers struggling. Rahm had the crowd roaring with delight as he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker, to hole a 12-footer for birdie in his round of 68 to move two shots clear at 15-under.
One of those struggling was American Kurt Kitayama in bogeying his 17th hole in a round of 66 to be sharing second place on 13-under-par and tied with Cameron Champ, who bogeyed 15 and 16 in his round of 67.
There was an ugly incident near the turn in Rahm’s round when a spectator shouted something in Spanish and Rahm was clearly not happy with the comment.
That aside, the tournament is in Rahm’s hand and given the names of those behind, he’s now an overwhelming favourite to close out PGA Tour victory No. 7, and with Masters winning Patrick Reed, and sharing eighth place at 10-under, being the closest of any note to Rahm.
“I always enjoy a Sunday in the lead”, said Rahm. “It’s been a little bit of a while. The crowd loves me so far, I can tell. You know, they want me to win, so hopefully I can do it for them.
“So far I’m proud of the way I’ve played and I can just keep enjoying each moment and each second of it and hopefully play as solid as I have tee to green, keep hitting fairways, keep hitting greens, and like I said, just roll a few and hopefully extend that lead.”
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