Can Danny Lee stake a late Presidents Cup claim?

Justin Thomas  – he and Danny Lee share the lead

New Zealander Danny Lee entered calculations for a potential Presidents Cup berth by taking a share of the third round lead at the C.J. Cup Nine Bridges in Korea today, and, although entering the week perhaps far from the mind of International Captain, Ernie Els, a win tomorrow would surely have him under consideration.

Lee overcame a double bogey at the 10th hole today with a 60-foot putt for eagle at the last to join Justin Thomas the lead in the US9.5 million event.

Given that the time gap between the automatic qualifiers and the captain’s picks for December’s Presidents Cup was designed to have the most in form players in the final line-up then if Lee was to go on with it tomorrow then his case for inclusion can’t be dismissed.

Thomas appeared to be edging well clear of the field until Lee’s late heroics and a bogey by the American at the final hole saw a three shots swing between the pair setting up a fascinating final day tomorrow for the former US Amateur Champion, Lee.

Lee has appeared in one Presidents Cup, that coming in Korea in 2015 so the prospect of playing the event is not as preposterous as it might have seemed at the start of the week.

Lee and Thomas have opened up a three-shot lead over Australia’s Cameron Smith with another shot back to Americans Jordan Spieth and Wyndham Clark.

Jason Day is the next best of the Australians in 22nd place after his round of 1 under par 71.

For Lee it was a particularly exciting day and finish especially given his Korean heritage

“As for that putt, frankly I wasn’t aiming for the hole,” said Lee referring to the unlikely eagle. “I was just trying to get the ball to roll down the slope as slowly as possible but it kept going. I would say it was about 19 steps (yards) from the hole.

“I’ve never played exceptionally well in Korea, so I also felt I could play better in front of my Korean fans. On top of that my parents and my wife are Korean and my granddad lives here so that would be great. I am glad I had a strong showing this week and hopefully I can say the same tomorrow.”

Smith continued his good record in the event having finished inside the top ten in both visits to Jeju Island. A double bogey late in his opening nine might well have proven disastrous but he regathered with a birdie at the 11th and a lengthy eagle putt of his own at the 12th.

 

 

 

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