Saturday's golf: Andrew Landry, Scottie Scheffler break away in desert
La Quinta, Calif. — Andrew Landry and Scottie Scheffler broke away Saturday at The American Express.
Landry shot a 7-under 65 at PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to join Scheffler atop the leaderboard at 21-under 195, four strokes ahead of third-place Rickie Fowler.
Scheffler had a 66 on the adjacent Stadium Course, also the site of the final round Sunday.
“It’s a tough course. It’s a good track,” Scheffler said. “If you’re not on your game, you can really struggle. There’s a lot of trouble out there, so you’ve got to hit a lot of quality shots to keep the ball in play. Good test.”
Fowler, tied with Scheffler for the second-round lead, overcame two front-nine bogeys to shoot 70 at the Stadium Course. At the event for the first time in six years, he played the Pete Dye-designed course for the time Saturday after only taking a quick scouting drive early in the week.
“I was actually surprised by the green speed early on,” Fowler said. “They were a bit slower than what I’ve seen the last two days, so adjusting to that, really didn’t have anything go in early on until the ninth hole. But I thought I did a good job of hanging around, not getting too far behind.”
Ryan Moore and Chase Seiffert were five strokes back at 16 under. Moore had a 67 at the Stadium, and Seiffert shot 67 on the Nicklaus layout.
Tournament host Phil Mickelson missed the cut by six strokes. The 49-year-old Hall of Famer finished three rounds at 3 under. He eagled the par-5 16th on Saturday in a 71.
Landry lost a playoff to Jon Rahm two years ago at PGA West. The 32-year-old Texan has found something in the desert after missing the cuts in seven of eight starts this season.
“It’s been a heck of a week so far with my ball-striking,” Landy said. “Just kind of one day’s ball-striking, the next day’s putting and putting’s just been here all week. So, we’ll just keep riding it out and see what happens tomorrow.”
The 2018 Texas Open winner closed with a 12-foot par save on the par-4 ninth after bogeying the par-3 eighth. He birdied six of his first eight holes.
Scheffler got a break on his final hole, escaping with par on the par-4 18th after his drive bounced out of the rocks along the left-side water and into the fairway.
“I was just trying to hit a little draw 3-wood — and I drew it a lot,” Scheffler said. “I’m not sure if it would have crossed up there, so it was a great break bouncing off the rocks like that. I guess you take them where you can get them.”
The 23-year-old former University of Texas star is in his first season on the PGA Tour after winning twice and topping the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and overall points lists.
“I think winning is pretty similar at all levels of the game, and I feel like I’ve gone a good job of closing tournaments out, especially last year on the Korn Ferry Tour,” Scheffler said. “So, looking back on that experience should definitely help. It should be a fun day.”
The leaders became friends when Scheffler was in college.
“I live in Austin,” Landry said. “I’ve kind of watched his career, because I work with Chuck Cook out at UT Golf Club, so I’ve known Scottie for a little while. … I’m going to feel super comfortable out there with him. And, hopefully, he doesn’t hit it too far by me.”
Tony Finau, at No. 15 the top-ranked player in the field, followed a second-round 62 on the Nicklaus Course with a 71 at the Stadium alongside Mickelson. He was seven strokes back.
“I shot a 62 this week already,” Finau said. “It looks like I might need that tomorrow.”
Brian Stuard (Jackson/Oakland University) shot a 70 while Ryan Brehm (Mount Pleasant/Michigan State) finished with a 71.
Miguel Angel Jimenez made a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with senior newcomer Ernie Els to win the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Fred Couples dropped out on the first extra trip down the par-4 18th at windy Hualalai, missing a short par putt.
Jimenez, paired with Couples in the second-to-last group, birdied Nos. 13-15 in a 5-under 67 to match Els and Couples at 14-under 202.
“I said to my caddie, `The winning score is going to be 15-under par and we need to hurry up and make birdie,’” Jimenez said. “Make three birdies in a row, 14-under par and then here we are.”
The 56-year-old Spaniard has nine victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning at Hualalai in 2015. He has won in all seven his senior seasons.
“Played well every year here and it’s nice to have a second win,” Jimenez said.
Els made his senior debut Thursday with an even-par 72 to fall eight strokes behind leaders Jimenez and Bernhard Langer, then rallied with consecutive 65s. The four-time major winner from South Africa had an eagle and five birdies, chipping in on the par-4 16th for his final birdie.
“Disappointing, obviously,” Els said. “I would have loved to got it through, but I had a couple of chances, didn’t quite get the right speed or the right line, but all good. Congrats to Miguel.”
The 60-year-old Couples finished with a 67.
Jimenez and Couples left birdie tries to win on the 18th in regulation just short, and Jimenez had a birdie putt stop on the edge on the first extra hole.
With the wind down, Els’ 12-footer to win on the first playoff hole ran by the right edge. On the second extra hole, his 20-footer went by on the right side before Jimenez holed the winner.
“Not going to be short,” Jimenez said.
Els missed a chance to become the 19th player to win in his tour debut. Jimenez was the last to accomplish the feat in the 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship.
“The first day, it was pretty disappointing,” Els said. “I was almost last in the field. Then I got myself back up and played some really good golf.”
Jimenez ended up with the victory lei.
“It looks nice and sexy,” he said.
Retief Goosen shot 64, the best round of the week, to tie for fourth with Wes Short Jr. at 12 under. Short closed with a 67.
Langer, tied for the lead with Els, Couples and Jimenez with two holes left, finished double bogey-bogey for a 71. The 62-year-old German star, a three-time winner at Hualalai, hit long and left into the lava on the par-3 17th.
Second-round leader Woody Austin, playing in the final group with Langer, had a 73 to tie for ninth at 10 under.
Inbee Park finally made a bogey, but she still finished with a 4-under 67 and a two-shot lead over Sei Young Kim heading into the final round of the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
Park, a 19-time winner on the LPGA Tour, hadn’t made a bogey since November’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. But she finally dropped a shot when she three-putted the difficult 211-yard par-3 18th.
To that point, she’d been precise and consistent and had a decent day with the putter. She hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and made five birdies. Three consecutive birdies starting at the par-4 13th built her lead to three shots.
Lee Westwood, chasing his 25th European Tour win, moved into a one-shot lead after the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Westwood carded a seven-under 65, including an eagle on the par-five eighth, to move to 14-under for the tournament.
Bernd Wiesberger and second-round leader Francesco Laporta are one shot off the lead, with Matthew Fitzpatrick a shot further back on 12-under. Sergio Garcia and Kurt Kitayama are on 11-under.
The top-ranked Brooks Koepka recovered from a poor round on Friday to fire a two-under 70 and is tied for 48th, nine shots off the lead.