US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff made three eagles in a five-hole span but it was Patrick Cantlay and Martin Laird who shared the lead after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Scotsman Laird, chasing his first win since the 2013 Texas Open, and American Cantlay each fired six-under par 65s to set the pace on 20-under 193 after 54 holes at TPC of Summerlin in suburban Las Vegas.
Laird’s round was highlighted by a 50-foot eagle putt at the par-five ninth. He hit all 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
“It got a little tricky in spells,” Laird said. “The wind was kind of swirling on the front nine.
“I hit the ball nicely, got the ball in the fairway a lot, which is what you’ve got to do around here. If you get it in the fairway you can be aggressive.”
Cantlay could join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the only players since 1960 with four straight top-two finishes at the same event after a 2017 win and runner-ups the past two years.
But it was Wolff, a 21-year-old American and 2019 US college crown, who stole the show by shooting a 61, one off the course record and in a third-place pack on 195 with compatriots Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark and Austin Cook.
“I put myself in a really good spot for the final day,” Wolff said. “I’m pretty pleased with my ball striking and how everything has come together.”
Wolff became only the fifth US PGA player since 1983 to make three eagles on a front or back nine in a PGA event.
“With those three eagles, it kind of just propelled me to the top,” Wolff said.
Wolff, who won his first PGA title at last year’s 3M Open just weeks after turning professional, shared fourth at the PGA Championship in August in his major debut, then led entering the last day before losing to Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open
After pitching in a birdie from the rough from 70 feet at the third hole and back-to-back birdies at nine and 10, Wolff began his eagle run at the par-4 11th, holing out from the fairway from 116 yards with a lob wedge.
“It was just a smooth one and one hop,” Wolff said. “I think skipped past the hole and spun back in, so really nice to jump start the back nine.
“You never expect to hole out but when it happens it puts you in a really good mindset.”
Wolff reached the green in two at the par-5 13th, dropping his approach just inside 18 feet and sinking the putt.
“Another great drive and then a perfect number on the second shot,” Wolff said. “Hit my hybrid way up in to the air and then rolled in a putt for that.”
Wolff blasted his tee shot at the par-4 15th 298 yards to 15 feet and sank another eagle putt.
“The 3-wood on 15 was probably one of the best shots of the day,” Wolff said.
– DeChambeau struggles –
Wolff missed a 15-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th and birdie putts from just outside 14 and 12 feet and 17 and 18, settling for a back-nine 28.
DeChambeau, one stroke adrift after 36 holes, stumbled with two bogeys and two double bogeys in the first six holes but reeled off four birdies in a row starting at the par-3 eighth and shot 71 to stand on 200.
“Didn’t really hit bad shots, just didn’t go where I wanted,” he said. “Went into some really bad places and unfortunately didn’t save par from them. Just stuff didn’t go my way. It’s OK. Not a big deal.”