American Steele takes charge in LIV Adelaide as major champions loom

motorsport27 April 2024 07:00| © AFP
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Brenden steele @ Getty images

Three-time PGA Tour champion Brendan Steele seized a one-shot lead on Saturday to take into the final round at LIV Golf's Adelaide stop, but a slew of major winners are within striking distance.

The American nailed nine birdies to one bogey in an eight-under-par 64 at the Grange Golf Club to edge clear of New Zealander Danny Lee, who carded a 67.

Mexico's Carlos Ortiz and Chile's Mito Pereira were a shot further back.

"I was hitting it really well today," said Steele, who is 14-under after 36 holes and looking to better his best result on the Saudi-backed tour – third place in Tuscon last year.

"There's a lot of birdies out there and it's kind of going to be a race to 20-under I think," he added of the potential winning total.

"For me personally, I just want to go and play as freely as I can. I've been doing that well over the last few days and if I can do it for one more day then I can have a good chance."

Once again, bumper crowds produced a carnival atmosphere at the fledgling circuit's most successful event and Steele said he thrived on it.

"This crowd is incredible, it's so big, it's so supportive, which I find fantastic," he said.

Steele heads into the final day with a stacked chasing pack, including two major winners three shots behind and four more within six of the lead.

Among them is Australia's 2022 British Open champion Cameron Smith, who would like nothing more than to take out the title on home turf.

He was followed by big crowds and kept them happy with a blemish-free 65 to be three adrift alongside former Masters winner Patrick Reed.

"It's starting to feel better, there were some changes there that needed to be made," he said of his work off the tee, which was a highlight of his round.

"It was a good day. I didn't really do too much different to yesterday, just a few more putts went in."

Smith admitted to being slightly overwhelmed last year in Adelaide when he was given a hero's welcome, and said he was still feeling the pressure this year.

"I think the support is amazing, but there's a lot going through your mind every second of the day and it's very tiring," he said. "So it's kind of a good and a bad thing at the same time."

Former world No 1 Jon Rahm began the day four adrift of Japanese overnight leader Jinichiro Kozuma and dropped a shot at the third to slip further behind.

The Spanish star, LIV's highest-profile recent recruit, reeled off six birdies in his next 10 holes before two more late bogeys derailed his progress.

He finished six off the pace with former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka keeping him company.