NATADOLA, Fiji — Brandt Snedeker took a three-stroke lead Saturday in the wind-swept Fiji International, shooting a 2-under 70 in difficult conditions at Natadola Bay.
Coming off the United States’ Ryder Cup victory Sunday in Minnesota, Snedeker had three birdies and a bogey to reach 12-under 204 on the Vijay Singh-designed layout. He opened with a 69 and shot a 64 on Friday.
“It was a tough day. I did a great job of hanging in there,” Snedeker said. “I hit the ball really well off the tee with one exception and put the ball where I needed to all day. I hit a bunch of great putts that didn’t want to go in today for whatever reason.
Australia’s Anthony Houston was second after a 73, and countryman Matthew Giles, the second-round leader, was 8 under after a 75. New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison followed his course-record 64 with a 69 to join Australia’s Michael Hendry (68) at 7 under.
Snedeker parred the first eight holes, birdied the par-4 ninth and added another on the par-4 14th. He dropped a stroke on the par-4 16th — ending his bogey-free streak at 49 holes — and rebounded with an up-and-down birdie on the short par-5 17th.
“Starting the day out, if you’d have told me I’d shoot a couple under I probably would have taken it tough as the conditions are and as many big numbers are out there. I’ve given myself a chance and going into tomorrow I need to finish it off. A three-shot lead in wind like this is one hole, so I need to go out there and play a solid round of golf like I did today.
Ranked 23rd in the world, the 35-year-old Snedeker won at Torrey Pines in February for his eighth PGA Tour title. He’s trying to win his first international title in the event sanctioned by European, Australasian and Asian tours.
“We’ll see what the weather looks like,” Snedeker said about the final round. “Hopefully, we get a good day forecast, go out there and make some birdies and shoot something low.”
Singh was tied for 36th at 1 over after a 72. The 53-year-old Fijian is a three-time major champion.
Boo Weekley was even par after a 75, and fellow American Heath Slocum was 2 over, also after a 75.