Recap of the day
The first big movers were both called Patrick. Reed thrashed a 64, Cantlay a 65 and they set an early clubhouse target of 9-under 204 which Sergio Garcia (69) and Cameron Smith (68) would equal. But the real story of the day was in the final group. Matt Kuchar took a viewing role, limping to an 8-over-par 79, but Rory McIlroy carded a 68 to stretch three clear of that pack in a tie for third on 12-under 201. The Northern Irishman might be a clear second, but he remains distant of the leader Dustin Johnson who responded to everything McIlroy threw at him. In fact, he went two shots better for the day with a 66 for 16-under 197 and can now eye a sixth World Golf Championship title (only he and Tiger Woods own more than three).
Low round of the day: Reed’s 64
Revised outright betting: Johnson 1/4, McIlroy 9/2, Garcia 50/1, Reed 66/1, Cantlay 66/1
Sunday weather forecast
There might be an early start due to the threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon. There is a 50-50 chance of rain and the temperature will remain in the mid-60s.
Leaders after at 54 holes
Dustin Johnson (66, 197) – One eagle, one birdie on the front nine; four birdies on the back nine to atone for the double bogey-6 he opened that stretch with (his only dropped shots in the 54 holes). He leads the Greens in Regulation (44 of 54), Scrambling (90%) and SG: Putting (5.478) rankings. Not a bad combo.
Rory McIlroy (68, 201) – An irritating day of going backward before he went forward. Bogey-birdie-birdie to start (and also late in the day at 15, 16 and 17), but he also when he went bogey-bogey-birdie-birdie-birdie from the seventh. Leads SG: tee to Green (12.319) but ranked 30th for SG: Putting (1.027).
Patrick Reed (64, 204) – Balanced nines with an eagle, three birdies and a bogey on each of them. Found more fairways (10) and greens (16) than he’s managed all week.
Patrick Cantlay (65, 204) – Opened birdie-bogey, but then added one eagle and four birdies to thrash his way into contention. Ranks fourth for SG: Putting (4.920).
Sergio Garcia (69, 204) – Starring with the putter this week, ranking sixth for SG: Putting (4.838) and also maintaining decent Tee to Green numbers (13th with 4.481).
Cameron Smith (68, 204) – Ranks first for SG: Around the Greens (4.832), fifth for SG: Putting (4.907) and steady on Moving Day with just the one mistake.
Fate of the Favourites
Justin Thomas (74, 213) - 32-under-par through his first nine laps of this course and suddenly 5-over through the last two. Truly lost his mojo. Ranked 71st (of 72) for SG: Putting with -4.887.
Dustin Johnson (66) – “You’re always pleased with a lead heading into the final day. At 16 I made a really good four after a bad bounce in the fairway. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. The greens are tricky but I don’t chase the hole, I look to leave it close to the hole. Should be a lot of fun tomorrow.”
Rory McIlroy (68) – “I can attack for sure. Four shots is a tall order, but I’m happy with how I played the last ten holes, gave myself a lot of chances. There’s been a lot of traffic on these greens and it can be tough. If it firmed up it would suit me, firmer and harder the better. You have to think round here, the fairways are firm and the harder the better for sure.”
Patrick Reed (64) – “Things are getting a little more comfortable this week (with altitude). Even if you know the numbers it takes some trust to hit the ball so far. Work with my coach is going well too. The swing feels in great shape and I feel in great shape. I’m naturally aggressive and I’ll keep doing that tomorrow.”
Road to Victory at Chapultepec
2018 Phil Mickelson – R1: 13th, R2: 14th, R3: 2nd
2017 Dustin Johnson – R1: 20th, R2: 5th, R3: 2nd
Notes: If Rory McIlroy needs any encouragement it can come, perhaps, from the knowledge that the man in second has always won here (remember – very small sample!).
Fate of the 54-hole Leaders at Chapultepec – where did they finish?
2018 Shubhankar Sharma – 9th
2017 Justin Thomas – 5th
Notes: Sharma led by two, Thomas by one, but neither got the job done and managed only a 74 and a 72 respectively.
Focus on – Dustin Johnson with a lead
He’s had 18 54-hole leads in total, going on to win 10 of them. On one further occasion, he led the Tournament of Champions with one round to go (event reduced to 54 holes) and also polished that off. Let’s look more closely at big leads though. Here are the times he has had a three-shot (or more) advantage with 18 holes to play:
2010 U.S. Open – three-shot lead – carded 82 – 8th
2013 Tournament of Champions – three-shot lead – carded 68 – won
2013 HSBC Champions – three-shot lead – carded 66 – won
2016 BMW Championship – three-shot lead – carded 67 – won
2017 Genesis Open – five-shot lead – carded 71 – won
2017 HSBC Champions – six-shot lead – carded 77 – 2nd
Two high profile collapses there, but four victories. His last five 54-hole leads have all been shared and he reaped three wins.
Focus on – Rory McIlroy chasing
Tomorrow will be the 20th time he will head into the final lap of a main tour event in second and he has failed to turn the last eight opportunities into a win. The last time he succeeded was in the 2015 DP World Tour Championship (when one back). He has four wins from the 19 efforts with the biggest comeback the four swings he trailed Adam Scott in the 2013 Australian Open.
Focus on – Kiradech Aphibarnat in the WGC
The Thai likes these events, especially in recent times. He was T5 here 12 months ago, made the last eight in the Dell Match Play and was T4 in the HSBC Champions. T7 heading into the final lap he can make it four top fives in five starts.