Johnson takes lead into final day in Saudi | Ralph Lauren

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World No.1 Dustin Johnson will take a two-shot lead into the final round as he bids to win the Saudi International for the second time in three years.

Johnson, who was also runner-up in 2020, completed a delayed second round of 64 on Saturday morning and then added a 66 to reach 13 under par, with France’s Victor Perez also shooting 66 to lie in second place on 11 under.

Tyrrell Hatton, who won in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, is a shot further back alongside fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan, American Tony Finau and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.

After completing the final four holes of round two in one under par, Johnson began the third round a shot off the lead shared by Ryan Fox and Stephen Gallacher.

Four birdies in the first 10 holes saw the Masters champion cruise into a two-shot lead and his only blemish of the week so far came when he found the water with his approach to the 13th to run up a double-bogey six.

“Felt like I played really well all day, other than 13, but I didn’t think I hit that bad a shot,” said Johnson, who birdied the 17th and 18th to give him an average of 66.18 from his 11 rounds at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

“I pushed it a hair right of the flag but just came up well short of where I thought it would and ended up making six there.

“But other than that, I drove it well and hit a lot of really good iron shots … I didn’t hole a whole lot of putts, but finishing nicely definitely helped the day out.”

Perez carded four birdies in a bogey-free 66 and is relishing playing alongside Johnson in the final round as he looks to boost his chances of qualifying for a Ryder Cup debut in September.

“I think that’s as good as it gets and I’ll be very excited for the challenge,” Perez said.

Sergio Garcia’s 64 was the lowest round of the day and lifted the Spaniard into a seven-strong group on nine under par which also contains Viktor Hovland and Scotland’s Calum Hill.

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