Albany, Bahamas – 29 November 2018: On a benign day on the Albany golf course, Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay made hay, scoring 65 to take a three-stroke lead over an elite field of golfers. Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson were further afield, pursuing the leaders at four under 68. Tiger Woods endured plenty of misery though as he settled for a 73, only one stroke better than Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese star brought up the rear end of the 18 man field.
The sea breeze and some sandy bunkers are the only real protection to this Ernie Els course. Under soft conditions, the technical committee decided to tuck the pins in some inconvenient corners to pose a tricky challenge to the golfers.
Several golfers found themselves having to deal with the green twice over, as their putts rolled off the deck after rolling over the ridges and catching the downslope away from the green. Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose were among those that endured the painful experience.
But Cantlay had no such issue. He birdied five of his last six holes to finish with a full flourish and the clubhouse lead. Reed made eight birdies in his round.
Woods will have the 12th hole to blame for his misery. He made all six fairways and eight of nine greens in regulation as he went past the bend at even par. By then he had negated the losses from two bogeys with an even number of birdies.
His round unravelled at the 12th hole. Playing the second shot near the water hazard, Woods failed to chip out and the ball rolled back down the slope into the water. Tiger made a triple there and spent the next six holes trying in vain to recover from the damage.
“I had a little patch right behind the golf ball and I tried to toe it in there in trying to make sure I actually hit it long,” Tiger explained. “I was trying to play for like a 10-12 footer coming back and it just didn’t come out and it blew back in the hazard.
“I didn’t quite feel comfortable with my game today even though I drove it great. It was definitely reflective in my scoring today. I didn’t quite feel comfortable and just didn’t quite hit the ball close enough or give myself a lot of looks at it.”
The day though belonged to Reed and Cantlay. The former has been going around the world, flying to Dubai, then Hong Kong and now the Bahamas over a three week period. Cantlay joined the field after Webb Simpson withdrew from the event. And now both men find themselves at the head of the tournament by a comfortable three-stroke margin.
T1. Patrick Cantlay, -7
T3. Henrik Stenson, -4
T5. Alex Noren, -3
T7. Justin Rose, -2