PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Dustin Johnson overcame a sloppy back nine in the stiffening breeze by making a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach for a 2-under 70 that gave him a share of the lead going into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Given the conditions, the 70 at Pebble Beach felt like hard work.
Ted Potter Jr. shot a 62 at Monterey Peninsula and left wondering how much better it could have been. Potter, with virtually no one watching his round because the stars were at Pebble on Saturday, was 11 under with three holes to play, needing only one birdie and two pars for a 59.
He bogeyed the last two holes, which at least was enough to tie for the lead.
“I didn’t feel like I hit bad shots coming in there on the last couple, making bogeys there, but I just knew it was going to be tough coming in,” Potter said.
They were at 14-under 201, and with more wind in the forecast — compared with virtually none the previous two days — this could be wide open.
Johnson is going for his second straight PGA Tour victory having won by eight shots at Kapalua to start the year. He also is virtually assured of being only the fifth player since the world ranking began in 1986 to be No. 1 for an entire year.
Jason Day, coming off a playoff victory at Torrey Pines two weeks ago, had a 69 at Pebble Beach and was two shots behind along with Troy Merritt, who had the lead until four bogeys over his last six holes at Monterey Peninsula for a 69.
Jon Rahm birdied his last three holes at Spyglass Hill and worked his way back into contention with a 70. He was in a group at 11 under that included 50-year-old Steve Stricker (70) and Patrick Rodgers (69).
Also in the mix was Phil Mickelson, though he made it harder on himself with a three-putt bogey on the 18th at Pebble Beach for a 72. Mickelson had gone 46 consecutive holes without a bogey, though he managed only one birdie Saturday at Pebble Beach.
Rory McIlroy’s debut in this tournament was a short one. He hit into the ocean with an iron on the par-5 sixth hole leading to bogey. He finished with a drive that bounced along the rocks left of the 18th hole, though he took his penalty drop, hit the pin with his third shot and finished with a birdie. No matter. He still managed a 72 and missed the cut by two shots.
Johnson would appear to be the man to beat on Sunday, though he has a mixed history at Pebble Beach — and atop the leaderboard.