Silvis, Ill. — Michael Kim spent his 25th birthday moving within 18 holes of his first PGA Tour victory.
Kim took a five-shot lead Saturday at the John Deere Classic in a third round delayed twice for a total of roughly four hours because of bad weather and concerns over lightning.
Kim, who has just one top-10 finish in 84 career PGA Tour starts, shot a 7-under 64 — closing with four straight birdies — for a three-day total of 22-under 191.
Bronson Burgoon (66) was 17 under and Australian Matt Jones (66) was 16 under. But if Kim plays as well on Sunday as he did while celebrating his birthday, the former Cal star will likely cruise to victory.
“Coming into the day I told myself, ‘It’s your birthday. Try and have as stress-free a day as possible.’ I’m very satisfied with the score I shot,” Kim said.
Harold Varner III (66) was alone in fourth at 15 under. Andres Romero of Argentina was 14 under after shooting 64, as was Sam Ryder (67).
Tyler Duncan had the day’s best round with a 63.
The players who weren’t able to complete Friday’s second round because of bad weather, a group that included Kim, did so earlier Saturday. The field was then subjected to two more weather delays — this time of 2½ hours and then 1½ hours.
The interruptions didn’t bother the birthday boy.
Kim was the NCAA player of the year for Cal in 2013, but he’s yet to stand out as a pro. His best finish on tour was a tie for third at the 2016 Safeway Open.
On Friday, Kim was four strokes ahead and in the middle of playing the 18th hole when play was suspended for the second and final time. He missed an 8-footer for par when play resumed early Saturday, his only bogey of the second round.
Kim was both steady and, at times, spectacular. He pushed his lead to three strokes by hitting his approach from 144 yards to 7 feet on the par-4 13th. A 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th kicked off his strong finish. Kim’s final three birdies were all from inside 15 feet.
What’s gone right for Kim this week?
“Everything,” he said. “I’m hitting it good. Hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and making a lot of putts. It’s just been a great three days so far.”
Burgoon’s round was highlighted by one of the best shots of the tournament so far. His tee shot on the 226-yard, par-3 seventh hole got within 18 inches of the cup for a tap-in.
Jones, in search of his second PGA Tour win, moved up the leaderboard with a 37-footer for eagle on 17.
Duncan entered the day barely above the cut line. He was 9 under through his first 14 holes, setting up a potential run at Paul Goydos’ course-record 59 from 2010. But Duncan cooled off and then finished with a bogey.
He was 12 under alongside Steve Wheatcroft, who fell out of contention with a 71.
“I thought about it once. I knew there were a lot of chances left,” Duncan said of the possible 59. “I hit a couple good shots, but it played a little tough coming in.”
One big push down the stretch vaulted Scott McCarron to the top of a crowded leaderboard and put him in position to capture his second straight Constellation Senior Players Championship.
If he does, he’ll join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this PGA Tour Champions major.
McCarron and Bart Bryant shot matching 65s to move into a share of the lead with Jeff Maggert.
McCarron birdied two of the final four holes at Exmoor Country Club for a three-round total of 16-under 200. Last year, he rallied to win the event at Caves Valley near Baltimore.
Maggert, who led most of the day, shot 66.
Vijay Singh (66) was one shot back. Three-time champion Langer (67) and Illinois golf coach Mike Small (66) were another stroke behind, and Scott Parel (70) was in a group at 13 under.
McCarron came into the week with seven top-10 finishes this year and a win at the American Family Insurance Championship last month.
“The only way to repeat is you’ve got to put yourself in position going into the final round, which I’ve done,” he said. “(Sunday) will be very exciting. We’ve got a stacked leaderboard, and someone is going to have to go pretty low tomorrow to win this tournament.”
It’s the first time three players have been tied for the lead entering the final round of a major since the 2011 U.S. Senior Open, when eventual winner Russ Cochran was even with Mark Calcavecchia and David Frost.
An 11-hour sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast sparked the latest impressive round in Russell Knox’s glorious summer of golf, putting him in contention to seal back-to-back wins on the European Tour at the Scottish Open.
Knox mastered the windiest conditions of the week over the Gullane links to shoot a 4-under 66 in the third round, leaving him two strokes off surprise leader Jens Dantorb (68) and one behind a six-way tie for second place in the event used as a tune-up for next week’s British Open.
The Scotsman doesn’t want this summer to end. After placing 12th at the U.S. Open last month for his best finish at a major, Knox was runner-up at the French Open and then won the Irish Open last week thanks to consecutive 40-foot birdie putts on the 72nd hole and first playoff hole.
Now, he’s got a great chance to win his home championship, a week before heading to the British Open also in Scotland. There’s also potentially the not-so-small matter of a first appearance at the Ryder Cup in September.
“I’m loving the way I’m swinging and the putts are going in,” Knox said. “I’m just playing with a smile on my face.”
The 49th-ranked Knox said his energy levels were low on Friday following his big weeks in France and Ireland, but he “slept like a king” and enjoyed a “huge breakfast” including his favorite Scottish bread. It clearly did the trick.
On a day when Robert Rock – the overnight leader by two shots on 13 under – plunged down the field after a 76, Knox birdied five of his last 11 holes to find himself tied for eighth place and among the lead groups teeing off late on Sunday because of TV scheduling.
That means he will miss the entire football World Cup final. Knox doesn’t mind.
“Being in contention is more fun,” he said. “It’s a bit of a bummer but I’m here to play golf.”
Rock’s implosion – he shot the worst round of the day, which included a triple-bogey 7 on No. 11 – saw more than half the remaining field race past him.
Dantorp, an unheralded Swede with just one top-10 finish in 61 starts on the European Tour, birdied his final three holes to take the sole lead on 13 under.
Behind him, Matt Fitzpatrick (64), Ryan Fox (63), Marcel Siem (65) and Scott Hend (63) were all among the earlier starters – playing before the wind really started to pick up – to reach 12 under. They were joined by Alexander Bjork (67) and Rickie Fowler (66), who drove 458 yards downwind on the 471-yard par-4 10th hole.
San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski held off a charge from three-time defending champion Mark Mulder to maintain a one-point lead after the second round of the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe.
Mulder began the day nine points behind Pavelski in the modified Stableford scoring system, which awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey and minus-two for double bogey or worse. He had 31 points in the round for a total of 47.
Pavelski had 23 points on the day for a two-round total of 48. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (44), former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer (43), two-time winner and former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien and former tennis standout Mardy Fish (39) followed. Former NBA star Ray Allen (38), MLB Hall of Famer John Smoltz (35) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (33) were also in the hunt. Steph Curry, among the leaders after an 18 in the first round, fell back and was at 28 points.
Mulder, a former major league pitcher, had just four points after 15 holes on Friday, but since then he has tallied 43 is now in position to win the tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course for the fourth straight year.
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