Koepka leads by 4 as he hunts for No. 1 rank­ing

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports -

Brooks Koepka im­proved his chances of tak­ing over as No. 1 in the world, shoot­ing a bo­geyfree 5-un­der 67 Satur­day for a four-stroke lead af­ter three rounds of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea.

Koepka had a three­r­ound to­tal of 13-un­der 203. Ian Poul­ter, who shot 68, was tied for sec­ond place with sec­ond-round leader Scott Piercy, who had a 72.

Koepka, 28, who trailed by one stroke af­ter two rounds, will move to the top of the world rank­ings if he wins the tour­na­ment and for­mer No. 1 Justin Thomas, the de­fend­ing cham­pion here, does not fin­ish any bet­ter than sec­ond.

Thomas shot a 71 Satur­day and is at 1 un­der, 12 strokes be­hind Koepka and tied for 43rd. It would be Koepka’s first ap­pear­ance at No. 1.

Dustin John­son is cur­rently No. 1, Koepka is third and Thomas fourth. John­son and No. 2 Justin Rose are not play­ing this week.

There were six golfers tied for fourth in South Korea, in­clud­ing Rafa Cabr­era Bello, who shot 65 Satur­day, and firstround leader Chez Reavie ( 70).

Shub­hankar Sharma of In­dia had the round of the day, a 64, to move to 3 un­der, 10 strokes be­hind Koepka.

Koepka, the three-time ma­jor cham­pion who was re­cently voted the Player of the Year on the PGA Tour, started with eight straight pars.

His round in­cluded back-to-back birdies on the ninth and 10th holes, and then a key par save from a dif­fi­cult lie in the green­side bunker on the 11th - the only hole where he looked in any kind of trou­ble.

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