Hend in the mix after WGC third round

Jimmy Walker acknowledges the after finishing the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club Friday Aug. 4 2017 in Akron Ohio

Belgium's Thomas Pieters on Saturday rolled in a 32-foot birdie putt at the final hole to share the third-round lead at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational with two-time major victor Zach Johnson.

Short-game master Spieth wielded his magic putter to sink consecutive monster birdies late in his round, before ending his day with a sand save at the last, holing a seven-footer for par.

But from 250 yards away the big-hitting Belgian fired his approach onto the green to set up a two-putt birdie, before nearly spinning his approach to the third back into the hole.

One shot behind was Scott Hend of Australia, who got into his first Bridgestone Invitational on a loophole and posted a 63 even with two three-putt bogeys.

Hideki Matsuyama had a 67 and was two shots behind. Tied for fifth were Adam Hadwin (67) of Canada, Charley Hoffman (67) and Rory McIlroy (68) of Northern Ireland.

Rory McIlroy is feeling in confident mood as he lurks just three shots off the lead heading into the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The driver was still a little bit off. Ball striking's been good, same today.

"My bad golf is getting better", said Pieters, a Firestone first-timer.

"I three-putted the second (for a par) and I three-putted the seventh hole (for a bogey).

My shots are going pretty straight, too", the 25-year-old said.

A win on Sunday would give him the 13th of his career, and first since the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Just like Pieters, he had eight birdies in a round of 65 and holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole.

Pieters made only three pars over his last 11 holes, yet he still has his best chance to win in America. I drove it good. "I've been scrambling well all week and today I managed to hit a few more fairways and actually hole some putts, so that was the big difference because it's a really tough golf course", said Hend.

"There's still 18 holes left. I just keep plugging away".

In weather that turned out better than expected - only one heavy shower - Kim shot a bogey-free 66 by converting a string of birdie putts.

The 25-year-old Pieters by his own admission was awful off the tee, hitting only four fairways, but he finished in style by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt for a bogey-free five-under-par 65 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

Most of the other highly ranked stars in the tourney have a ton of work to do in the final round if they are going to have any chance of stealing a victory.

"I hit a poor drive and just laid up", he said.

"I'd much rather be frustrated at my own decision than someone else's". That was good for the low round of the day, and moved Hend into a tie or second at 8 under.

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