Goosen still in the hunt

2009-02-15 09:22

Pebble Beach - Dustin Johnson, an American in his second PGA season, birdied all five par-5 holes for a five-under 67 and a four-stroke lead after 54 holes at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Johnson stood on 15-under 201 after Saturday's third round by taking full advantage of the offerings at Poppy Hills, one of three courses used in the first three rounds of an event that ends Sunday at famed Pebble Beach.

Canada's Mike Weir fired his second consecutive 69 to stand second on 205 with South African Retief Goosen another stroke back after a 74 Saturday. Mark Calcavecchia and fellow American Bob Estes shared fourth on 207.

Johnson, who shared seventh last year in his Pebble Beach debut, birdied the fourth but gave back the stroke with a bogey at the eighth. He responded by making birdies on the next four holes, a trio of par-5s and the par-3 11th.

"I got off to kind of a little bit of a rough start. I hit a few bad shots, but my short game was very good, so I chipped it close and made the putts. So that kept me going a little bit," he said.

Overnight leader Goosen was disappointed with his day at Spyglass Hill. The two-time US Open champion is looking for his first PGA Tour title in more than three years.

"It was a terrible round of golf," Goosen said. "I played poorly tee to green.

"It was a very disappointing round, played myself a little bit out of the tournament now, but you know, I'm going to need a very low round tomorrow to have a chance of catching the leader now.

"I wasn't very comfortable out there at all today and couldn't hit the ball well and struggled, really."

Completing his par-5 birdie sweep on the last hole, Johnson showed the style that made him a winner last year as a PGA rookie.

Johnson made birdies on the last two holes at the 2008 Turning Stone Resort Championship to defeat Australian Robert Allenby by a stroke. He finished 42nd on last year's US money list.

While he was well-positioned going into the final round, there were fears the weather would play a role come Sunday with the forecast calling for rain all day along with some high winds.

"Doesn't sound very good, does it?" said Mark Russell, PGA Tour Vice President of Rules and Competition.

"I'm not going to change my game plan at all," Johnson said. "Obviously everyone is going to be playing in the same weather, so if it's difficult for me, it's difficult for everyone."

Weir is hoping to draw on his experiences here and then take his chances.

"I have some good memories to draw on. I've played some good rounds at Pebble Beach, and as far as the weather goes, we'll see what we get tomorrow," Weir said. "This week we've been lucky. Most days they've called for a lot of rain and we've gotten away with it. So who knows."