Five inches is the margin between Tyrrell Hatton leading the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Tyrrell Hatton joining the Bay Hill battered. About the size of a smartphone. Less than a bottle of soda.
On the 10th hole on Saturday, after a drive in the right rough, Hatton rocketed a punch approach that darted just through the branches in front of him and over the sand protecting the green — and the ball escaped shooting over the green when it hit the flagstick. The.75-inch-wide flagstick. He made his par 4.
On the par-4 13th, Hatton pounded his 28-foot birdie putt. Between the 1.68-inch-wide white golf ball on the top of the green and a blue, watery grave on the bottom of the green was the hole, which Hatton’s ball found the edge of, rotated nearly all the way around and fell in. The 4.25-inch-wide hole.
Those five inches gave Hatton a1-over 73 and a two-stroke lead over world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Marc Leishman after the third round. And those five inches were about all Bay Hill was surrendering, as no one broke 70, Hatton’s round was tied for ninth best on the day, and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka shot a career-worst 81.
“Yeah, obviously it was extremely tough out there,” Hatton said. “You could be made to look pretty silly at times without hitting too bad a golf shot. It was just amazing how much firmer the greens got throughout the day and they really tucked away some pin positions as well. So you can see when the scoring’s as high as it is, the course setup was extremely tough.”
Here’s everything you missed from Saturday’s action in Orlando, Fla.
Tyrrell Hatton leads
It’s really Tyrrell Hatton survives. He started the round with a share of the lead and left it with a par-birdie finish to take the lead outright. Those around him did not fare so well.
The second round’s other co-leader, Sung Kang, held a two-stroke lead on the 11th tee when he took a backswing, stopped about halfway through, stepped away, then proceeded to hit his next two shots into the water. He then finished his final two holes at 4-over for a 6-over 78.
Marc Leishman, the 2017 champion and this year’s tournament ambassador, held a share of the lead at one point, then gave it back with a bogey on 15. His even-par 72 tied for the second-best round of the day amazingly.
Danny Lee also grabbed a share of the lead — on a hole where he hit his drive into a bush. He took a drop, then dropped a 69-yard pitch shot for a birdie 4. He ballooned to a double-bogey 6 on the 18 for a 3-over 75.
Who’s lurking? (Only the world’s top-ranked player)
Rory McIlroy also had a share of the lead at one point, too, playing steady until he reached the 18th.
After a tee shot in the deep left rough, McIlroy hit his 175-yard approach to the top of the rocks guarding the right side of the green, and after a few bounces, it nestled in. He took a drop, made his bogey 5 and finished with a 1-over 73.
The world’s top-ranked player has finished no worse than tied for fifth this PGA Tour season and will clearly be looking for at least that on Sunday.
Saturday’s big winner was Bay Hill, right?
Yes. Oh yes. No one broke 70. One player, Max Homa, broke par, as he shot a 2-under 70 — and moved 45 spots up the leaderboard.
Some more of the damage: Only seven players shot par; eight players shot 80 or worse, including Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka; Rickie Fowler, sporting an Arnold Palmer-inspired cardigan, made a quadruple-bogey 9. Woof.
“It was really tough. I actually added my score up, my scorecard up in the scorer’s hut there, and kind of did a double-take. I added up to 72 and it felt like I shot a 65, not a 72,” Leishman said.
“So, yeah, it was really tough. The greens were firm, fast. It was exactly how you wanted the golf course to play, really. Par was a great score and hopefully I can play like that again tomorrow.”
What happened with Brooks Koepka?
A lot. As in a lot of strokes.
The four-time major champion fired a career-worst 81, 9-over at Bay Hill, his sixth straight round over 70 on the PGA Tour.
As he finished up his round, playing partner Kyoung-Hoon Lee requested a selfie, Golf Channel reported. Koepka declined. This wasn’t worth memorializing.
What about Tiger?
How can I watch Round 4?
You can watch Sunday’s action on Golf Channel from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, and from 1:30-5 on NBC.
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