Horikawa leads, Koepka five strokes off the pace in Japan

Charles Howell III of the United States plays his shot from the 15th tee during the second round of the RSM Classic at the Sea Island Golf Club Seaside Course on Friday in St. Simons Island, Georgia. — AFP

TOKYO — World No. 1 Brooks Koepka has his work cut out if he is to win the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament for a third year in a row after falling five strokes behind leader Mikumu Horikawa during the third round in Miyazaki on Saturday.

Japan's Horikawa will take a two-shot lead into the final round at Phoenix Country Club after firing seven birdies with a single bogey in a six-under-par 65 to move to 12-under 201 for the tournament after 54 holes.

Australian Brendan Jones and Japan's Shugo Imahira also shot 65s for a share of second on 10-under with South Korean Park Sang-hyun alone in fourth a further shot back after shooting a 68 for the third day in a row.

Koepka started the day three shots off the pace after landing three late birdies on Friday and looked to have ignited his round when he nailed an eagle putt at his fourth hole, a par five.

The American stalled when he gave back the shots with a double bogey at the next hole, however, and two more birdies over the back nine left him with a 69 to stand in a share of eighth on seven-under.

Overnight leader Emiliano Grillo managed only a level par 71 and fell to a tie for fifth on eight-under with Yuki Inamori (70) and another South Korean Japan Golf Tour regular in Ryu Hyun-woo (68).

The Argentine world No. 48 was equally unimpressed with his round. "Absolutely garbage to be honest," he said. "Didn't hit it good off the tee, didn’t hit good second shot, putting was horrible. A lot of work to do tomorrow."

Mexican Ancer makes a big move to lead in Sydney

Mexican Abraham Ancer took charge on moving day with a brilliant seven-under-par 65 in blustery Sydney winds to move into an imposing five-stroke lead after the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The Texas-born 27-year-old, playing in Australia for the first time, blitzed five straight birdies from the sixth hole and added three more on the way home for a total of 13-under 203 after 54 holes at The Lakes Golf Club.

Japanese amateur Keita Nakajima was in second place on eight-under after a 70, one shot better than American Keegan Bradley and the leading Australian Marcus Fraser, who both shot 71s for a share of third.

Matt Kuchar, the highest ranked player in the field, looked liked joining them on seven-under only to bogey the final hole and sign for a 73 and share of fifth with three Australians.

Nakajima will bear the hopes of Asia going into the final day after An Byeong-hun, who led after round one and shared the lead at the halfway stage after a hole-in-one, faded out of contention with a third-round 76.

The South Korean, bidding to become the first Asian to lift the Stonehaven Cup, imploded with two double bogeys in three holes on the back nine and finished tied for 12th on four-under.

With his co-overnight leader Max McArdle opening his round with a double bogey, the names at the top of the leaderboard changed frequently before Ancer took control with his run of birdies.

The Mexican could have been even further in front had he not narrowly missed a 10-foot eagle putt after successfully traversing the water with his approach shot at the 17th hole.

World No. 29 Kuchar, who won the PGA Tour's Mayakoba Classic in Mexico last weekend, and compatriot Bradley will be expected to mount a challenge on Sunday.

Howell 3 in front at halfway at RSM Classic in Georgia

Charles Howell remained bogey-free and extended his lead to three strokes after the second round at the RSM Classic in Georgia on Friday.

Howell added a second successive 64, this time on the par-70 Seaside course after playing his first round on the par-72 Plantation at Sea Island.

He posted a 14-under 128 halfway total, while fellow Americans Cameron Champ and Jason Gore both shot 63 at Seaside to jump into equal second place on 11-under.

Howell, 39, said he could not remember two days of better ball-striking during his nearly two-decade long professional career, which has reaped more than $35 million in prize money.

However, with only two PGA Tour victories, Howell acknowledges he is not particularly comfortable or experienced playing with the lead.

Howell, who has 16 runner-ups to go with his pair of victories, said nerves were not so much the problem. Rather, he sometimes had trouble keeping his mind in the moment. — Reuters