05 January 2020: After a relaxed start to the calendar’s first golf event, windy conditions and challenging pin positions have combined to reign back the young stars trying to make an early impression in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Justin Thomas was reduced to an even 73 on Friday and he avenged the pain with a fluent effort in the third round, going five-under despite a bogey at the par-4 twelfth hole. Defending champion, Xander Schauffele kept plodding away to stay glued to the top of the leaderboard. There wasn’t a single bogey-free card on moving day in Kapalua, Hawaii. At 11-under, he is one ahead of Thomas and three strokes in front of Gary Woodland.
The two young men were eleven-under as they reached the finishing stretch, building a nice three-stroke advantage over Joaquin Niemann. The Chilean, first round leader, was kept to even terms by the course for much of Saturday. But he suffered late damage, conceding back to back bogeys at the 16th and 17th to slip down the order.
Late bogey, the difference between Thomas and Schauffele
Thomas yielded ground to Schauffele when he made a bogey at the 17th hole to switch the lead again. The BMW Championship winner overshot the green on the par-4 17th before two-putting from just seven feet to score the second bogey of his round. Eventually, Thomas settled for four-under 69 to end the day at 10-under, just behind Schauffele.
The defending champion gained an edge over Thomas with back to back birdies and 14 and 15. On the par-5 18th hole, Schauffele left his second shot about 49 yards away from the flag. The third slid well past the pin, leaving him nearly 60feet to try and buttress his advantage at the top. After sliding just past the cup, he made a tricky four foot putt to close the day with a 71 and a one-stroke advantage over Thomas.
Woodland climbed into third with a 69, despite a double bogey six on the seventh hole. The US Open champion was lying 8-under 208 through 54 holes.
Kevin Kisner shoots day best 68 with Tyler Duncan
Kevin Kisner was in no mood to be bound by the tricky Plantation Course, emulating the day’s best effort and jumping fifteen spots on the leaderboard to T4 with Jon Rahm, Niemann, Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed, who were all tied at seven-under-par.
Kisner and Tyler Duncan (T17) produced the low cards on Saturday making 68 each on another tough day for scoring. Sunday is going to be another brutal day for the golfers, with 33kph winds predicted from the westerly direction.