TORONTO — A frustrating Friday wound up helping Tony Finau make sure his Saturday didn't go to waste in the third round of the RBC Canadian Open.
Finau birdied the final hole at St. George's Golf & Country Club for an 8-under-par 62 and a share of the overall lead with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the tournament's reigning champion as its 2019 winner.
"I didn't finish the way I wanted to yesterday, and I think all it did was kind of light a fire in my belly to get after it today," Finau said. "That's pretty much what I did. I made some birdies, and I just played really clean golf. "
McIlroy, who had a 65 to match Finau at 11-under 199 through 54 holes, will try to repeat at a tournament that was canceled the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm just happy to give myself a chance, be in the final group," McIlroy said. "Once I saw, I think Tony had got to 10 or maybe 11, I think I was on like 8 or 9 at the time. I just said to myself, 'Let's just try to get yourself in the final group.'"
Four players were tied for third at 9 under: PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (63), Sam Burns (65) — the Charles Schwab Challenge winner two weeks ago — Alex Smalley (67) and Wyndham Clark (68), who led by a stroke after the first round Thursday and took a two-stroke edge into the weekend.
Austin Cook (68) and Jim Knous (69) were seventh at 7 under, and six players were five strokes behind the leaders going into the final round.
That included Baylor School graduate Keith Mitchell, who played with McIlroy and closed his round of 70 with a double bogey. On Friday, Clark and Mitchell both talked about the difficulty of the 18th and being grateful to come out even on the par-4 hole.
"I got off to a little bit of a slow start," Clark said after Saturday's round. "I was nervous, a lot of people out here, hadn't been in contention in a little while. But then I calmed down and I really felt good about my game."
Finau had the best round of the week, with his eagle on the par-5 ninth allowing him to make the turn at 5-under 29 before carding four birdies and a bogey on the back nine.
"I knew I was playing well, but at any given moment on this golf course you can make a number," Finau said. "So there's no reason to get ahead of myself. I just tried to stay in the moment as much as I could and put together a nice round all the way to the end."
Finau won the opening tournament of the FedEx Cup playoffs last season for his second PGA Tour victory.
Thomas, who moved 18 spots up the leaderboard, had an eagle on the par-5 15th, and Sunday's round may require some special shots of anyone who wants to win.
"I need to set myself a number and be super aggressive," McIlroy said. "I know I'm going to have to make some birdies out there to win this thing tomorrow."