Recap of the day
Pre-round leader Matthew Fitzpatrick couldn’t get moving on Saturday and labored to a 2-under-par 70 which left him on 13-under 203, a number the defending champion Xander Schauffele had set shortly beforehand following a 68. It earned them a share of third, one blow clear of Paul Waring who compiled a brilliant 66. That score was bettered by Louis Oosthuizen’s 65 and got him into solo second on 14-under. Had he not dropped a shot at the 17th he would have shared the lead, but Rory McIlroy claimed that with a third 67 of the week for 15-under 201.
Low round of the day: Oosthuizen’s 65
Revised outright betting
McIlroy 5/6, Oosthuizen 7/2, Schauffele 5/1, Fitzpatrick 17/2, Waring 28/1
Sunday weather forecast
And repeat: partly cloudy, warm (temperatures in the high 60s), no chance of rain and nothing more than a breeze (10 mph).
Leaders after at 54 holes
Rory McIlroy (67, 201) – Found 11 of the 14 fairways (he’d gone 13-for-28 previously), landed 13-of-18 greens in regulation (he’s now 38-for-54) and was 5-for-5 with his scrambling.
Louis Oosthuizen (65, 202) – Opened with five birdies so a slowing down was inevitable, but he felt firm. He’s hit 40-of-54 green in regulation (T3).
Xander Schauffele (68, 203) – Found 15 greens in regulation, his best tally of the week, but his scrambling was awry (1-for-3). He’s played 16, 17 and 18 in 7-under through three rounds.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (70, 203) – Opened with two birdies and three times bounced back from bogeys, but couldn’t make headway. Landed just 6-of-14 fairways (he’s 22-for-42 for the week and T56) and found 11 greens in regulation (his lowest number of the week).
Fate of the Favourites
Rory McIlroy – see above
Hideki Matsuyama (68, 210) – Thrashed five birdies and an eagle-3, but also made a bogey and a double bogey on his final hole.
Justin Rose (71, 210) – Nothing wrong with six birdies, but three bogeys and a double bogey at the 17th hurt his hopes of climbing high. Has scrambled poorly all week and topped it in R3 going 1-for-5.
Xander Schauffele – see above
Rory McIlroy (67) – “The game feels pretty simple. I know that it's not going to feel like that all the time, but when it does, you have to take advantage of that feeling. I've given myself another opportunity to win a very big golf tournament, a tournament that I've never won before.”
Louis Oosthuizen (65) – “If you drive it good around this golf course, with the greens being the way they are, you can score low. You can have a low score because it's like I said before, I think it's the best I've seen the greens before.”
Xander Schauffele (68) – “I just want a chance with nine holes to play. I think I'll be pretty satisfied with that.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick (70) – “Certainly didn't have any A Game today. Yeah, just didn't feel comfortable really out there with my drive. The fairways around here are tough, and that was a bit of a grind.”
Paul Waring (66) – “If it's my time, it's my time. If not, it's not. It's one of those things, I have a few weeks to finish off this season, so I'm looking forward to, at least I know I'll learn tomorrow. I know I'll learn from the situation and learn a lot about myself.”
Road to victory at Sheshan International GC
2018 Xander Schauffele – R1: 2nd, R2: 5th, R3: 2nd
2017 Justin Rose – R1: 6th, R2: 3rd, R3: 4th
2016 Hideki Matsuyama – R1: 3rd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Russell Knox – R1: 9th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Bubba Watson – R1: 19th, R2: 3rd, R3: 3rd
Notes: We noted yesterday that winners here in Shanghai tend to be in-contention from 36 holes and that doesn’t change one lap on. All 13 winners here were T6 or better with 18 holes to play and 11 of them were T3 or better. Those 11 were all within three strokes of the lead. In 2011 Martin Kaymer came from five back and Justin Rose two years ago from eight swings, partly due to his excellence, with a helping hand from a Dustin Johnson back nine collapse.
Fate of the 54-hole leaders at Sheshan International – where did they finish?
2018 Tony Finau 2nd
2017 Dustin Johnson 2nd
2016 Hideki Matsuyama 1st
2015 Russell Knox 1st
2014 Kevin Kisner 2nd
Notes: The last five pace-setters are 2-for-5 with Finau making a play-off. In 13 events here there have been 14 solo/shared 54-hole leaders. Every single one of them finished the tournament in the top three with eight claiming the win.
Focus on – Rory McIlroy
Throughout his career the Northern Irishman has had 20 leads and co-leads after 54 holes, winning 11. Only twice has he owned a one-shot lead and he is 1-for-2. The error in that latter set came when leading the WGC St Jude Invitational in July and seeing Brooks Koepka pass him. Before that he turned a share of the Canadian Open lead into a win, a performance that is in his mind. “I want to go out there and be committed, play aggressively, and shoot a good number,” he said after his third round. “I took a lot from the win in Canada earlier this year. I went out tied for the lead, and I just said from the start, I'm going to keep my foot down and I'm going to go for everything. It was a good lesson that when you do have something right there, in front of you, a tournament to win or something to achieve, you just have to grab it with both hands, and that's what I'll do tomorrow.” Last year’s performance here was pretty much an aberration for him. After six finishes of T11 or better he lurched to T54, shooting 72-77-75-74. That was the first time he had not gone sub-70 in the final lap. His R4 scores before then were 63-67-69-69-66-66. Maintain that and he’ll be hard to beat.
Focus on – Louis Oosthuizen
This is the 11th time the South African has found himself in second with 18 holes to play of a 72-hole tournament and only twice has he successfully chased down the leader. His final round record at Sheshan is quite a contrast with McIlroy’s. In nine laps he has only twice broken pars (67 in 2013, 69 in 2008).
Focus on – Matthew Fitzpatrick
Should he be concerned by his recent experiences of Moving Day when in the lead? This year, indeed in the last three months, he has led the WGC St Jude Invitational, Scandinavian Invitational, Italian Open and now this event at halfway, each time on his own. Only at the Italian Open did he maintain the advantage and he is yet to find a win, yet he has hardly reversed at pace. He shot 69-69, 69-64 and 68-69 in those three tournaments before this week and even Saturday’s 70 was far from disastrous. He will be frustrated, but need not yet be wary.