KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia — Top-ranked Dustin Johnson birdied the last two holes to shoot 4-under 66 in his third round and take a two-stroke lead at the Saudi International as he looks to win the European Tour event for the second time in three years.
The American returned early Saturday to complete his second round and made birdie at the last for a 6-under 64, leaving him a shot off the lead shared by Ryan Fox and Stephen Gallacher.
Johnson reached the back nine of his third round in the outright lead but brought the field back into play by making a double bogey at No. 13, his first dropped shots of the week.
He reacted by finishing birdie-birdie — his eagle putt at the last shaved the right side of the cup — to take control of an event he has dominated since its inaugural edition in 2019, which he won by two strokes.
Last year, he was second behind Graeme McDowell.
Johnson is 13 under par overall.
Victor Perez of France is Johnson’s nearest rival after shooting 66.
Four players — Soren Kjeldsen (65), Tony Finau (67), Andy Sullivan (68) and Tyrrell Hatton (66), the recent Abu Dhabi Championship winner — are a stroke further back at 10 under overall.
The Saudi International is the last of three events in the “Gulf Swing” that launches 2021 on the European Tour.