It should be a tasty final group with Woodland and McIlroy!
I’m not sure how many outside T4 will have a chance today as the weather should be mint.
Here are nine tidbits from Round 3 of the Sentry Tournament of Champions that gamers can use tomorrow, this weekend or down the road. The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort plays 7,518 yards to Par-73.
Final Mountain to Climb
After leading by three at the halfway point and 54 holes, Gary Woodland will look to close the deal for the first time in six tries in stroke play on TOUR. His only victory leading after 54 holes came at the Reno-Tahoe Open, which uses the Modified Stableford Scoring System. He’s leading the field in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green, just like the last three winners. He’ll play the final round with Rory McIlroy.
It’s Never Easy
McIlroy is no stranger to contending on Sundays but he’ll have to make up three shots on the guy who’s leading the field in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green and is second in Strokes-Gained: Approach-the-Green. With no bogeys in his last 32 holes, the debutante will need to continue that formula plus add a few more birdies. The Ulsterman’s putting numbers have improved each round (12th, 9th, 7th).
I as argued in The Confidence Factor, class players don’t need multiple reps around Kapalua to crack the code. Rory McIlroy is making the argument for me after two rounds. They don’t hand out any trophies after 36 holes but gamers who went with the first-timer this week won’t be upset that he’s T2 and just three back. He’s played the last 10 holes bogey-free and nine under for the week and he leads the field in GIR.
Been There, Done That
Marc Leishman is going to have nightmares about paradise if he doesn’t overt turn a four-shot deficit in the final round. After holding the lead after 36 holes last year he posted 76 in Round 3 to disappear (T7). This year he’s four shots off the lead with a double and triple on the card. Do the math. His final round scoring average this season is 65.5 and he closed with bogey-free 67 last year.
With a WGC title to his name already in the new season, Xander Schauffele continues his excellent play. Five shots off the lead, the 2017 TOUR Championship winner has squared just four bogeys on the week and just one in his last 32 holes. He’s made six birdies his each of his last two rounds but he might need eight or nine to make a charge.
Last Man Standing
Bryson DeChambeau is the only other player within five shots of the lead and in my view, the last man with a chance to win. The group at seven and eight shots behind will need too much help at the top and the weather doesn’t call for that to be the case. DeChambeau, like Leishman and Schauffele, has already won this season but needed four birdies in his last six holes to stay within touching distance. He’s leading the field in Strokes-Gained: Putting and Scrambling.
Rounds of the Day
It’s hard to gain ground when the top four on the leaderboard all shared the round of the day with 68. DeChambeau posted 70 and lost two shots to those above him. Paul Casey was the other player to sign for 68 as he moved from T17 to T11. I find this interesting because he hasn’t played here since 2010 and he has Honma irons in his bag. It was Casey’s first round in the 60’s this week.
Round 3 checked in at 71.242, the easiest mark this week. Round 1 was 71.333 and Round 2 was 71.394 so it has been essentially the same scoring conditions for three rounds. THIS COURSE IS DESIGNED FOR WINDY CONDITIONS. THIS IS A RECORDING. … Joining McIlroy on the bogey-free train in Round 3 was Troy Merritt (T13) and Matt Kuchar (T21). … The top 10 in bogey avoidance all reside in the top 10 on the leaderboard. … Woodland has made 20 birdies and leads the field. … First-timer Michael Kim was the first player to sign for 80 this week. … Kim joined Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Cameron Champ as the only players above par in Round 3.