Saturday's roundup: Kisner, Hoffman tied for lead at Bay Hill
Orlando, Fla. — Golfer Kevin Kisner knows only one speed — all out.
Whether he is racing golf carts back home in Aiken, S.C., or sprinting up the leaderboard on moving day at Bay Hill, Kisner does not back off.
Racing with friends earned Kisner a suspension last spring at straight-laced Palmetto Golf Club, a South Carolina institution founded in 1892. Kisner’s petal-to-the-metal style Saturday during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational earned him a share of the 54-hole lead at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
Kisner said he learned the hard way not to play for second place on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve lost plenty of playoffs out here,” said Kisner, who is 0-3 in them. “What I’ve learned is these guys are not afraid and they’re going to make a lot of birdies and there’s no protecting leads.”
Kisner appeared to be on his way to a comfortable margin entering Sunday.
But a bogey on the par-4 18th hole and a blistering finish by 36-hole leader Charley Hoffman left the two Americans tied at 11-under par and three shots clear of a pair of Englishmen — Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick — and Aussie Marc Leishman.
Kisner and Hoffman each carry plenty of momentum into the final round of the first API without golf legend Arnold Palmer.
During his third-round 68, Kisner shook off a bogey on the par-3 second hole and went on the attack. Dialed in with his irons and deadly with his putter, Kisner birdied five of the next eight holes.
Kisner nearly spun back a wedge shot into the cup on the 10th hole. He drained the six-foot birdie — his eighth one-putt in 10 holes — to move two shots ahead of Hoffman.
“I feel really comfortable with the number I’m hitting,” Kisner said. “And the greens are perfect. You know exactly what it’s going to do when it touches the ground, which is always fun.”
Hoffman, meanwhile, was off his game and misjudging Bay Hill’s firmness.
Following a second-round 66 for a one-shot lead on Emiliano Grillo, Hoffman found bunkers to bogey the first two holes. The 40-year-old hit 12 of 14 fairways Friday, but he ended up in the sand again on hole Nos. 6, 8 and 9. Each time Hoffman saved par.
But pars were not going to get it done against Kisner.
A tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th pulled Hoffman within a shot, but consecutive bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped him to 8-under par — four shots behind the surging Kisner.
Things actually began to turn when Hoffman drained a five-foot bogey putt. He needed two shots to reach the putting surface when his approach shot found Bay Hill’s ankle-deep rough.
On the par-5 16th hole, Hoffman then sank a seven-foot birdie putt after his first attempt blew by the hole.
“If I go and three-putt 16 after, I mean a pretty good bogey on 15, the wind’s out of your sails,” he said. “It’s gone.”
Instead, Hoffman sailed through one of the toughest finishes in golf with consecutive birdies, culminating with a 71-foot chip-in on the 18th hole.
A 1-under par 71 never felt so good.
Consider the day for his playing partner, Grillo, who carded a 78. This included a quadruple-bogey 9 and a club toss into the lake on Bay Hill’s par-5 sixth hole. Call it a half-John Daly, who once made 18 on the hole.
“I’m going to feed off those last three holes going into tomorrow and go from there,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman, a four-time winner, has been in the lead after a round 12 different times on Tour. He failed to win any of those events.
Kisner has one win on Tour and one too many runners-up for taste. Even so, the 33-year-old will accept whatever happens Sunday.
“It’s just golf,” he said. “I have a pretty good outlook on that. There’s a lot of other things I could do that would be way worse than to have the lead at Arnold Palmer’s tournament.”
Anna Nordqvist shot a tournament-record 11-under 61 to take a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn into the final round of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Lewis and Jutanugarn each shot 66 playing together for the third straight day. They have had identical scores each day, with Jutanugarn getting the spot in the final pairing with Nordqvist because her name was listed first on the tee sheet Thursday. Nordqvist played with Lewis and Jutanugarn the first two days.
Playing in record 95-degree heat at Desert Ridge, Nordqvist broke the tournament 54-hole record of 19 under set by Ai Miyazato in 2013.
Needing to hole her second shot on the par-4 18th to shoot 59, Nordqvist hit left of the pin and went through the green to the edge of the grandstand. She took a drop and nearly made her birdie try from the fringe.
Protestors asked to leave
About a dozen people protesting the U.S. Women’s Open being played at a course President Donald Trump owns left peacefully after security officials asked them to leave the front entrance of the LPGA Tour’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Members of the group UltraViolet protested for less than 30 minutes before they were asked to leave the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. UltraViolet said a plane was set to fly over the course later with a banner reading “LPGA: TAKE A MULLIGAN. DUMP SEXIST TRUMP.”
The U.S. Golf Association-run U.S. Women’s Open is July 13-16 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a few miles from the USGA’s headquarters in Far Hills.
UltraViolet said it has 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for the event to be moved.
Steve Stricker shot a 10-under 63 in hot conditions to take a three-stroke lead in the Tucson Conquistadores Classic, putting him in position to win in his PGA Tour Champions debut.
Stricker is trying to become the 19th player to win in their first start on the 50-and-over and first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in the 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship.
Tom Lehman was second after a 67. First-round leader Fred Couples had a 70 to fall into a tie for third with Kevin Sutherland (65) at 11 under.