Reed surfaces in the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship

Patrick Reed reacts to the crowd after birding the 18th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Patrick Reed reacts to the crowd after birding the 18th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship. The (Wilmington, N.C.) Star-News via AP

The golf world has been wondering where Patrick Reed has been this season.

After a win in The Barclays playoff event and three runner-up finishes last year, and being the spirit and perhaps the best player on the winning U.S. Ryder Cup Team last September, Reed has just one top 10 back in January in 14 events this season and is 97th in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup standings.

He’s still ranked 15th in the world after finishing third in FedExCup points last year, but he has missed three of his past four cuts, shooting a 77 in each of the short weeks.

Reed has resurfaced in the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club.

He shot a 5-under-par 67 in Saturday’s third round to take a one-shot lead at 8-under 208 over Alex Noren of Sweden and Jon Rahm of Spain, who both shot 69s Saturday, into Sunday’s final round.

Reed said the difference thus far this week has been largely on the greens, in addition to an equipment change. He ditched a green reading book to simplify things.

“It’s really been just a little minor equipment change and really just getting back to how I used to play golf, getting back to the college days when I was kind of a see and react putter, and I seemed to always do that at Ryder Cup and do that more during the tournaments I’ve won rather than getting too technical and having other guys read them,” Reed said. “Now I just kind of read them myself, just go with my first instinct and knock them in. It’s been working great this week.”

There are 18 players within four shots of the lead. Seung-Yul Noh, Brian Harman, Vaughn Taylor and first- and second-round leader Francesco Molinari of Italy are tied for fourth and two shots back at 6-under 210, six players including Billy Hurley III and Pat Perez are three shots back, and Phil Mickelson is among five players four back.

“Normally a couple guys separate themselves from the pack, but that’s just going to mean it’s going to be more fun on Sunday,” Reed said.

Reed, 26, is seeking his sixth win in his fifth full year on the PGA Tour. He has at least one win in each of the past four seasons.

Reed made six birdies and one bogey Saturday, with birdies on his final two holes to take the lead, and will keep the same formula Sunday. He is scoring well despite hitting just 19 of 42 fairways off the tee.

“I’ll stick to my game plan and try to get the ball in the fairway. I haven’t really done that very well this week, but I keep giving myself opportunities,” Reed said. “I’ll try to keep hitting iron shots close and let the putter do the work.”

A third consecutive day of challenging winds made scoring difficult, though the wind died down a bit and conditions were perfect otherwise. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson matched the 67s of Reed and Noh to move into a tie for 14th at 4-under 212.

“Benign around here is 15, 18 miles an hour, but it was the calmest of the three days so far, and as you can tell, the scores are a lot lower for a lot of the guys,” Reed said. “It almost seemed easier out there.”

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin