Dunlop Phoenix Tournament 2022

Higa takes control as Pereira lurks

Higa takes control as Pereira lurks

Japan's Kazuki Higa fired a flawless six-under-par 65 to snatch the outright third-round lead of the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament but knows he has to continue to play his 'A' game with a host of PGA Tour stars ready to pounce.

Higa, who currently leads the JGTO Money Rankings, recorded six birdies, three on each half at the Phoenix Country Club, to head into Sunday's finale at 14-under 199.

Higa holds just a two-shot advantage over Chile's Mito Pereira (67) and overnight leaders Tomoharu Otsuki (68) and Taihei Sato (68) who tied for second at 12-under.

Taihei Shimizu posted the day's low round of 62 to be four shots off the pace in lone fifth, while South Korean ace Tom Kim battled to a 70, no thanks to two late bogeys, to share the sixth spot with Yuto Katsuragawa (66) and Satoshi Kodaira (68) at nine-under.

Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent is lurking at eight-under following a 69 and was joined in ninth place by Rikuya Hoshino and Mikumu Horikawa who returned matching 69s too.

With three wins and five top-10 finishes already to his name this year, Higa puts himself on the brink of becoming the money ranking winner for the first time.

Having amassed ¥139,141,233, he's leading comfortably by nearly ¥40,000,000 from second-placed Hoshino.  Hence, a victory this week will take him a step closer than ever to his ambition.

Pereira endured a roller-coaster round which saw him make a crucial gain at the last hole to stay close to Higa. 

He ended the eventful day with a scorecard comprising an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys.

"I didn't play my best today, but I'm relieved that I was still able to end the day with four-under," said Pereira.

"I need to be consistent with my swing. I came here with an ambition to win and I will do whatever it takes to leave the course as the champion."

World number 15 Tom Kim mixed four birdies with a bogey to reach 11-under through 13 holes before two further dropped shots squandered on the 14th and 18th dropped him to nine-under.

"It was a good front-nine but the bogey at number nine sort of halted my momentum. I was punished by a bad tee shot on the 18th and lost another stroke there," said Kim.

"At five shots back, it's going to be difficult (to chase). For now, I need to focus on my play and put together a good round and see how it goes."

Leading third-round scores:

(Japan unless stated)

199 - Kazuki Higa 69-65-65;

201 - Mito Pereira (Chi) 65-69-67, Tomoharu Otsuki 70-63-68, Taihei Sato 65-68-68;

203 - Taisei Shimizu 67-74-62;

204 - Yuto Katsuragawa 71-67-66, Satoshi Kodaira 68-68-68, Tom Kim (Kor) 68-66-70;

205 - Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 66-70-69, Scott Vincent (Zim) 69-67-69, Mikumu Horikawa 69-67-69.