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Saturday’s golf: Cantlay, Laird share lead going into final shootout in Vegas

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Las Vegas — Tied for the lead going into the weekend, Patrick Cantlay already was four shots behind before he hit his opening tee shot Saturday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

That didn’t bother him in the least. He knows what to expect at the TPC Summerlin.

A tee shot so far left on the 10th hole that he had to hit a provisional? That made him a little anxious, but only until he found his original, hit wedge to 4 feet for birdie and began his climb back to where he started.

Martin Laird shot 6-under 65 on Saturday in the  Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

When the third round ended, Cantlay and Martin Laird each had a 6-under 65 without making it look terribly special and were tied for the lead. Both got their first PGA Tour victory at this tournament. Both have lost in a playoff. Both have played it enough times to realize birdie opportunities are there for everyone.

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau was among the exceptions.

He had a pair of double bogeys and back-to-back bogeys, all before he reached the seventh hole. At that point he was 5 over in a five-hole stretch, which he said felt more like 12 over on a course like the TPC Sumerlin. He rallied enough for a 71, though he was seven shots behind and had 30 players in front of him.

“Yeah, it was really weird,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s golf, right?”

Those 30 players ahead of him starts with Cantlay and Laird at 20-under 193.

“I’m sure by the time I get to the golf course the lead will already be more than 20 under, which is what it’s going to be around here,” Cantlay said. “I think my strategy out here is to stay patient because I know there are so many birdie opportunities instead of pressing or feeling like I’m trailing, and realize that they’re out there if I hit good shots.”

Laird had one exciting moment when he holed a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 9. Otherwise, it was attacking flags when he could and playing for the fat of the green with it was too risky. Some wind late in the day made it a little tougher, but the scoring average still was 67.5.

“I have had good rounds every day, so I’m not going to change anything,” Laird said. “It’s been working and I’m in a good spot, so just keep going.”

Matthew Wolff got it started early. After making the cut with one shot to spare, Wolff had three eagles in a five-hole stretch and had to settle for pars on his final two holes for a 61.

Making three eagles at Summerlin is not unusual with a few short par 4s and all the par 5s easily reachable. Wolff, however, holed out on No. 11 from 116 yards. He drove the green on the 301-yard 15th hole to 15 feet and holed an 18-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th.

He never really considered 59 because he was only 2 under on the front. He played the back in 8-under 28.

“If you only shoot 2 under on the front you feel like you never have a chance to shoot 59,” he said.

Wolff posted his 18-under 195 right as the last group was starting the third round, and it held until Laird was the first to get to 19 under with a birdie on the 13th.

Wyndham Clark (65), Brian Harman (67) and Austin Cool (67) also were at 195.

Na had a 64 and was three shots behind along with Will Zalatoris, who has a chance to earn special temporary membership with a strong finish Sunday. He already is leading the Korn Ferry Tour points list.

Cantlay picked up birdies where he expects to except on the short par-4 seventh, where his drive was hung out to the right and found a bunker, leaving a 70-yard sand shot that he did well to get within 12 feet for a two-putt par.

He expects to birdie the 10th, but not after hitting a provisional off the tee.

“I was hoping that it would be somewhat OK over there and I could make a par,” he said of his original tee shot. “Fortunately, it wasn’t that bad and I was able to hit a great shot, so that was a bonus.”

DeChambeau, playing for the last time before the Masters on Nov. 12-15, did too much damage early on to recover. A wild tee shot on No. 2 led to double bogey, and while he missed the fairway badly on No. 6, what led to the double bogey was a three-putt from 12 feet.

Four straight birdies on No. 8 steadied him – he nearly drove the 419-yard 10th – but not enough. He failed to convert on the short par-4 15th and dropped another shot coming in.

“Didn’t really hit bad shots, just didn’t go where I wanted to,” DeChambeau said. “Went into some really bad places and unfortunately didn’t save par from them. Just stuff didn’t go my way today, and it’s OK. Not a big deal.”

LPGA

Sei Young Kim went on another streaky run of birdies at Aronimink, shooting a 3-under 67 to hold the lead and positioning herself to put that label to rest at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Kim sits at 7-under 203, two strokes ahead of Brooke Henderson and Anna Nordqvist, and will try to win it Sunday on a rare early-morning tee time.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I’m also excited about going into the final day,” Kim said.

The tournament was delayed three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, landing its final round smack on a packed sports Sunday. The PGA of America had to get creative with the tee times with NBC having other programming commitments on the weekend. Kim, Henderson and Nordqvist tee off at 8:49 a.m. and the last group goes off at 9:16 a.m. The TV window is noon to 2 p.m. on NBC.

Kim was runner-up at the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018. Kim held the 54-hole lead at a major once, at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, where she finished tied for fourth.

The last four winners of the tournament either led or co-led after 36 holes, and Kim played like a golfer poised to make it five.

Henderson, who won the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship, tied her career-best 18-hole score at a major championship with a 65 to stay within striking distance. Henderson had five birdies for a bogey-free round.

Nordqvist, who had five birdies and three bogeys, shot a 5-under 68 as she tries to win her third major championship.

Inbee Park is three strokes behind the leader and Bianca Pagdanganan shot a 65 for the second straight day to rally her way into fifth at 3 under. Pagdanganan hasn’t had a bogey since the first round.

Tour Champions

Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Woody Austin topped the SAS Championship leaderboard at 9 under, leaving Jim Furyk three strokes back in his bid to become the first player to win his first three PGA Tour Champions events.

Clarke had a 6-under 66, Montgomerie shot 67 and Austin 69 at Prestonwood Country Club. Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer (66), Vijay Singh (66) and David Toms (67) were a stroke back.

Furyk was 6 under, following an opening 70 with a 68. He won at Warwick Hills and Pebble Beach, two courses he played regularly on the PGA Tour.

Clarke birdied the final two holes and four of the last five in a bogey-free round.

“The greens are awesome,” Clarke said. “I mean, the whole golf course is awesome, but the greens are as pure as you’re going to play anywhere in the world. They’re running about 12 1/2, so you leave yourself in the wrong position on the greens, you’ll be struggling to two-putt. So you’ve just got to play a little bit smart, try to play smart, which isn’t always my strongest point.”

Montgomerie also closed a bogey-free round with two birdies.

“I’ve been changing my swing,” Montgomerie said. “ I’ve lost a little weight and I put a little bit on again. American food, you can’t help it. I’ve been coming more inside on the backswing, or it feels like that, it might not look it on the screen, but it does definitely feel. Coming inside. So I’ve got a better launch, I’ve got a better trajectory, just the whole thing’s better than it was. A better flight in the ball and it’s going further.”

Defending champion: Jerry Kelly was 5 under after a 67.

European Tour

England’s Tyrrell Hatton will take a three-shot lead over Denmark’s JB Hansen and France’s Victor Perez into the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, with British Open champion Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and David Horsey another stroke back.

Hatton grew up not far from Wentworth and often came to one of the European Tour’s flagship events as a spectator, while he went into the final round in 2016 a shot off the lead before finishing seventh.

“It’s been a goal of mine to hopefully win this tournament so it would be very special,” Hatton said after his 3-under-par 69 in the third round to go 14 under overall.

Hatton began the day a shot off the lead and fell further behind with a bogey on the third, but bounced back to birdie the next and jumped into the lead with an eagle from 20 feet on the 12th.

He also birdied the 13th and recovered from a bogey on the 15th with a closing birdie to put himself in pole position for a fifth European Tour title and second victory of the season following the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

Fleetwood, who lost to Aaron Rai in a playoff at the Scottish Open last Sunday, was 4 over par after seven holes on Thursday, but lifted himself into contention with a third round of 67 which included six birdies and a vital par on the 18th after hitting his second shot into the water surrounding the green.

Horsey also posted a 67 thanks to five birdies on the back nine as he seeks a fifth European Tour title and first since 2015.

Lowry shared the halfway lead with Matt Fitzpatrick, but the final group was a combined 6 over par as Lowry carded a 74 and Fitzpatrick struggled to a 76.