By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
The third day of a golf tournament is often referred to as moving day — with guys getting themselves in position to win on the tournament’s final day. On Friday Chesson Hadley shot a course-record 61 after a par 72 on Thursday to pole vault himself into contention, with Brendan Steele (-12), and Tyler Duncan (-13).
On Saturday however things tightened up even more. With the tournament heading towards it’s final day there’s ten players within four strokes of one another.
For Phil Mickelson coming into Saturday’s third-round he had put together a 69 each day to put him at -6. Through 16 holes Mickelson was at -4 for the day, until he bogeyed the 17th hole. Mickelson got back the stroke had lost on 17 with a birdie on 18 to put him at -4 for the day, and -10 overall with one round to go. Mickelson’s last PGA tour was 91 tournaments ago, when he won the 2013 British Open.
“Yeah, I had a good front nine and I had a chance on the back to make up some ground,” he said afterwards. “Fortunately I didn’t let anything slide away, I got back to even par. I let a few shots slide on the back, but within striking distance and that’s what I’m excited about because even though I was fractionally off today, I feel like I’m really close. If I put it together tomorrow, I feel like I can a really good low round and it will be nice to go a few groups in front of the leaders and try to put some pressure on them.”
Duncan had put together a good round up to the 15th hole, when on his tee shot on the par three he put his shot into the water hazard, he’d bogey that hole. On 15 he ended up bogeying which bumped his score to -13. Overall on the day Duncan would shoot a 71 to keep him in the lead at -14.
“Got off to a decent start and struggled a little bit there on the back nine, but my putter woke up on the back and made some good saves there through the middle and then there again at 18,” the leader explained. “So just lucky enough to make some putts there to finish.”
The winner of the Safeway Open will receive 500 FedExCup points, $1.08M, an exemption thru the 2019-20 season, and a spot in the Masters, and Players major tournaments. For Duncan a PGA Tour rookie it’d be a massive win. He would be the first player since 2015 winner Emiliano Grillo to win his first start as a member of the PGA Tour.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity,” he explained of his chance to win. “To be here to play on Sunday is awesome and I’m going to come out and give it my best.”
Defending champion Brendan Steele he was even through 15 holes. He birdied 16 to move to one under for the round — he’d finish his round with a par 72, good for a tie of third.
Chesson Hadley who used a big effort yesterday to get himself in position to win, thru 16 holes he was only at a modest -2 on the day, and -13 overall — he’s in second heading into the final 18 holes tomorrow.
“Absolutely. I don’t think it was playing too easy today,” Hadley explained on the course a day where he came back earth after an astounding round the day before. “It’s not windy at all, but on the greens everything’s firming up. The fairways are really firm so you’ve kind of got to not — not hitting it exactly perfectly straight right now, but we’re finding a way to get the job done. Just don’t panic and, like you said, I got off to a really bad start. Really proud of the way that finished. I was really happy with the round.”
Bud Cauley shot a marvelous 66 to move himself into contention, overall he’s at -12 which puts him in a tie for third place, well in position to win the tournament tomorrow.
“Yeah, I played well. Hit a lot of good shots, made a couple nice putts,” Cauley explained. “Was really hoping to get one there at the last, but put myself in a good spot for tomorrow.”
Tee times for tomorrow will be from 10:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. — Duncan, Hadley, and Cauley will tee off with the final tee time. Phil Mickelson will tee off at 12:10 P.M., while Steele will start his round at 12:20 P.M.