February 5, King Abdullah Economic City, North of Jeddah: American Harold Varner III birdied the par-five 18th to finish one-stroke ahead of Adri Arnaus from Spain after the third round of the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers today.
The two players had started the round tied for the lead and went head-to-head for much of the day before the American returned a 68 to finish on 12 under while Arnaus carded a 69 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, chasing his first win in three years, fired a 67 and is a shot further back in sole possession of third place, in the star-studded opening event of the season on the Asian Tour.
The US$5 million event features the strongest field in this history of the Tour and one of its most lucrative purses.
Australian Cameron Smith came in with a 70 and is fourth on eight under, while defending champion Dustin Johnson from the United States (67) is seven under along with Australian Wade Ormsby (68) and Ryosuke Kinoshita from Japan (69).
Varner is on the threshold of the biggest win of his 10-year career.
“Just hanging in there,” said Varner.
“Really good pins today on 11, 12. So I just did a good job of just slowing down and just doing my job. I love competing. I mean, it’s the greatest thing in life is competing and just working at it.”
The American claimed the Australian PGA Championship in 2016 before joining the PGA Tour.
Arnaus lost the Acciona Open de España in a sudden-death play-off last year on the DP World Tour and will go all out to secure his first big win in the pro game on Sunday.
Said Arnaus: “I just think that day by day we get the hang of how the course is playing, the same wind as yesterday, as far as velocity and direction. So, we’re already knowing what to do here and there. It’s just sticking to the game plan and really give yourself the best look as you can and be in the right position.
“You know, when it comes to the putts, it’s not that easy to get the line right, as you can imagine.”
Fleetwood’s last victory came in the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge so victory tomorrow will be important for one of the game’s finest players.
“Yeah, very happy to be done and in. I got off to a bad start. I actually hit a perfect drive on one and was in like this massive rough and made a bogey from nowhere. On days when you know it’s going to be really hard, you don’t really want to be giving too many shots away, especially the start,” said Fleetwood.
“But after that, played really, really well. Scored well. Made more birdies than I thought I would do today probably. Just hit a lot of really good iron shots and gave myself chances.
“It was hard all day. It was like yards to play and scrapping. Yeah, very happy to be done for the day.”
Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai, one of the Asian Tour’s rising stars, recovered from yesterday’s 76 and came in with a 66, thanks to a birdie, birdie, eagle finish, to end three under.
“The 76 was a shame. If not for that I could have been in contention, but I am learning all the time. I will try and go low tomorrow,” said 22-year-old Phachara.
His young countryman Ratchanon Chantananuwat, the 14-year-old golf phenom, carded a 74 and is four over for the tournament.
Scores after round 3 of the Saudi International being played at the par 70, 7048 Yards Royal Green GCC course (am – denotes amateur):
198 – Harold Varner III (USA) 64-66-68.
199 – Adri Arnaus (ESP) 64-66-69.
200 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 66-67-67.
202 – Cameron Smith (AUS) 66-66-70.
203 – Dustin Johnson (USA) 65-71-67, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 68-67-68, Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN) 64-70-69.
204 – Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 68-68-68, Xander Schauffele (USA) 67-68-69, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-67-69, Bubba Watson (USA) 64-70-70.
205 – Joaquin Niemann (CHI) 65-72-68, Matthew Wolff (USA) 65-67-73.
206 – Paul Casey (ENG) 68-74-64, Brad Kennedy (AUS) 67-72-67.
207 – Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 68-74-65, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 65-76-66, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 68-70-69, Jovan Rebula (RSA) 68-70-69, Takumi Kanaya (JPN) 67-70-70, Phil Mickelson (USA) 67-69-71.
208 – Gavin Green (MAS) 70-72-66, Ian Poulter (ENG) 68-72-68, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 66-72-70, Shane Lowry (IRL) 68-70-70, Kevin Na (USA) 70-68-70, Patrick Reed (USA) 66-69-73.
209 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 66-75-68, Bio Kim (KOR) 66-72-71, Paul Peterson (USA) 70-68-71, Matteo Manassero (ITA) 62-73-74.
210 – Justin Harding (RSA) 71-73-66, Jarin Todd (USA) 67-76-67, Rikuya Hoshino (JPN) 70-71-69, Tony Finau (USA) 68-72-70, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 70-70-70, Lucas Herbert (AUS) 66-73-71.
211 – Thomas Pieters (BEL) 73-67-71, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 70-70-71, Lee Westwood (ENG) 71-69-71, Berry Henson (USA) 67-73-71, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 67-69-75, J.C. Ritchie (RSA) 68-66-77.
212 – Sebastian Crampton (USA) 73-70-69, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 71-71-70, Todd Baek (USA) 67-74-71, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 69-72-71, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-75-71, Laurie Canter (ENG) 68-72-72, Jason Kokrak (USA) 66-73-73.
213 – Victor Perez (FRA) 73-71-69, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 67-71-75.
214 – Louis Dobbelaar (AUS) 69-72-73, Ratchanon Chantananuwat (am, THA) 69-71-74, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 69-71-74, Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 70-69-75, Joohyung Kim (KOR) 65-73-76, Shiv Kapur (IND) 65-72-77.
215 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 68-76-71, Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 70-73-72, Daniel Hillier (NZL) 71-72-72, Marc Leishman (AUS) 74-69-72.
216 – Sihwan Kim (USA) 71-73-72, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 73-71-72, Rashid Khan (IND) 66-75-75.
217 – Yoseop Seo (KOR) 71-73-73, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 68-76-73, Viraj Madappa (IND) 71-72-74, Eduard Rousaud (ESP) 69-73-75, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 68-74-75.
218 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 69-73-76.
219 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 71-73-75, Ryo Hisatsune (JPN) 68-76-75.
221 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 73-71-77.
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About King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) is one of the largest and most significant privately-run economic projects in the world. It is centred on the establishment of a 185 million square meter integrated city by the Red Sea coast north of Jeddah. KAEC aimed at being a major contributor to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and great enabler of socio-economic development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by focusing on four strategic sectors: (1) Logistics and Industrial Services that include the Industrial Valley (IV) which has attracted local, regional and international investors in various non-oil industrial sectors, and King Abdullah Port (KAP) the second largest ports in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and ranked within the fastest growing port among the ports worldwide. (2) Quality of Life (Real Estate Development) which offers a wide variety of housing and living solutions to meet the price-point and lifestyle needs of a diverse residential population. (3) Tourism and Leisure, set to becoming a modern quality leisure & tourism destination on the red sea, KAEC is fully equipped for hosting and organizing massive events and activities due to its logistical and state-of-the-art infrastructure, including world class social, sports and leisure facilities. (4) The Business sector, that includes multitude of diverse projects and programs for supporting and empowering youth as well as developing human talents.
Emaar Economic City (EEC), the master developer of King Abdullah Economic City, is a Tadawul-listed public joint stock Saudi company established in 2006.