Australian Scott Hend said the chance to make a dream Presidents Cup debut will spur him on during a final-round charge at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Touted before the tournament as a player Internationals team captain Nick Price was keeping close tabs on, Townsville native Hend rocketed into contention with a seven-under-par 63 on day three at Ohio’s Firestone Country Club.
Hend, 43, started day four this morning in the penultimate group just one shot in back of co-leaders Thomas Pieters and Zach Johnson.
A strong finish at the final WGC event of the US PGA Tour season will push Hend up the standings for the Internationals team, which is finalised on September 4 from the top 10 players on the world rankings not eligible for the Ryder Cup.
World ranking points are calculated based on the strength of the field and the elite WGC-Bridgestone is a goldmine given 48 of the world’s top 50 golfers are present.
Hend, ranked 25th on the standings, is desperate to make a debut appearance at the biennial teams event alongside fellow Australians Adam Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman in New Jersey next month.
‘‘I would love to be on a team with Adam, ‘JDay’, ‘Leish’, as well as some of the Asian players. I’ve always loved the Presidents Cup and to play with those guys would be awesome,’’ Hend said.
Hend’s 63, the lowest of the day, launched him into solo third at eight-under, one shot back of two-time major winner Johnson (65) and Belgian Pieters (66).
Japanese world No.3 Hideki Matsuyama (67) sits in outright fourth at seven-under, while 2014 WGC-Bridgestone champ Rory McIlroy (68) headlines a three-way tie for fifth at six-under.
Fellow Australian Jason Day (70) climbed steadily up the leaderboard on day three before two closing bogeys left the world No.7 at three-under and tied for 10th.
Day believes he can make a Sunday surge up the leaderboard with a more accurate driver.
‘‘If I can just eliminate the mistakes and find more fairways, I feel like there’s enough birdie opportunities out there for me to be able to really take it low,’’ Day said.
Adam Scott, who won the WGC-Bridgestone in 2011, failed to get out of first gear with a 69 and he shares 16th at two-under alongside world No.2 Jordan Spieth (71).
Marc Leishman signed for a 70 on Saturday to stay at four-over, while Sam Brazel (71, five-over) and Rod Pampling (76, nine-over) all struggled to fire.