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Jason Dufner
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The Roundup

Three way battle at the top

by Matt Cooper

Recap of the day

Early starters: Before the leading groups had teed off Keith Mitchell had shown the way with a 5-under-par 66 which Rickie Fowler and Paul Casey would match. And shortly after the last group teed off from the first Sergio Garcia was putting out on 18 before signing for a 65. The Spaniard played the front nine in just 30 blows (back in 2005 he achieved the same feat on the back nine). There then followed two weather delays (both storm threats) which disrupted the circuits of the later starters.

Leaders: Justin Rose completed a 68 for 8-under 205 and solo sixth, Rory McIlroy also scored 68 which got him to fifth on 9-under 204 and Pat Perez’s 66 saw him leap both into fourth on 10-under 203. At the top of the pile, however, are three men, none of whom broke 70 on Saturday. Max Homa reached 11-under 202 with a 70, as did Joel Dahmen, whilst Jason Dufner achieved it with a 71.

Leaderboard: -11 Max Homa, Jason Dufner, Joel Dahmen, -10 Pat Perez, -9 Rory McIlroy, -8 Justin Rose

Notables: -7 Paul Casey, -6 Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, -2 Jason Day, E Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau

Low round of the day: Garcia’s 65

 

Revised outright betting: McIlroy 11/4, Dahmen 4/1, Dufner 6/1, Perez 7/1, Rose 8/1, Homa 9/1

 

Sunday weather forecast

The bad news is that more thunderstorms are a possibility. The wind will be around 11 mph, not enough to swiftly blow through the clouds which hold an 80% chance of containing rain. Temperatures around 70.

 

Leaders after at 54 holes

Max Homa (70, 202) – Three birdies in his first ten holes, but two back nine bogeys. He ranks first in the field for Putt Average for the week (1.595), but that number was hurt by needing 1.750 in round three.

Jason Dufner (71, 202) – Three bogeys and three birdies despite landing 15 of 18 greens in regulation. He ranks first in the field for SG: Tee to Green (12.627).

Joel Dahmen (70, 202) – A wild ride that took in one double bogey, three bogeys, one eagle and four birdies. Ranks second for Greens in Regulation (77.78%) and second for SG: Putting (6.367).

Pat Perez (66, 203) – Five birdies and 13 pars and his success is built on a superb scrambling game. He hit 12 greens in round two and just ten on Saturday, but he’s 100% for saving par those 36 holes.

 

Fate of the Favourites

Rory McIlroy (68, 204) – Just 7 of 14 fairways, but an excellent 16 of 18 greens in regulation. He ranks first in the field for SG: Approach the Green (5.993).

Jason Day (74, 211) – Not a card he’ll frame after making a double bogey-7 and three bogeys. He landed just 4 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens in regulation.

Justin Rose (68, 205) – A bogey at the second and another at the 18th, but five birdies in-between. Found only 11 of 18 greens in regulation.

Rickie Fowler (66, 207) – Continues to find few fairways (26 of 42 for the week), but a best-of-the-week 14 greens in regulation and he also went below 1.800 putts per GIR for the first time too.

 

Quote

Sergio Garcia (65) - “I don’t feel like I played too different to earlier in the week. The plan was simple. I’ve played well recently. It’s not that easy, the course is getting tougher through the week.”

 

Road to victory at Quail Hollow

2018 Jason Day – R1: 17th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st

2017 Played at Eagle Point

2016 James Hahn – R1: 17th, R2: 13rd, R3: 3rd

2015 Rory McIlroy – R1: 30th, R2: 5th, R3: 1st

2014 J.B. Holmes – R1: 16th, R2: 4th, R3: 1st

Notes: All 16 course winners in the 21st century (including Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship) were T7 or better after three rounds. 14 of those 16 winners were within three shots of the lead.

 

Fate of the 54-hole leaders at Quail Hollow – where did they finish?

2018 Jason Day – 1st

2017 Played at Eagle Point

2016 Rickie Fowler – 4th

2015 Rory McIlroy – 1st

2014 JB Holmes – 1st

Notes: Six of the 17 54-hole leaders on the course progressed to the win. But note that many of those who failed carded big numbers in round four. Kevin Kisner (in the PGA Championship) and Rickie Fowler (see above) both made 74; Nick Watney (2013), Billy Mayfair (2010) and Zach Johnson (2009) all shot 76.

 

Focus on – Max Homa

Completely new territory for the 28-year-old. He’s a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour but he’s never been first after 54 holes on either that circuit or the PGA Tour. What about being near the top of the leaderboard? Three times he was within one shot of the third round lead on the Web.com Tour and every time he ended the week T7. On one other occasion (last year’s Louisiana Open) he was T2 at this stage but carded a 76 to fall to T43. This effort is comfortably his best 54 hole position on the PGA Tour. Twice he has been T7; in the 2013 Frys.com Open he ended the week T9 in the 2015 Sony Open he collected T6.

 

Focus on – Jason Dufner

This is the eighth time Dufner has been involved in a 54 hole lead on the PGA Tour. The first two times it happened he was sharing the lead and didn’t convert the win. He’s 3-for-5 at getting the win from a solo lead. The most recent example? One swing clear in the 2017 Heritage he crashed to T11 with a 76. His one example of leading on the Web.com Tour led to a win.

 

Focus on – Joel Dahmen

Like Homa, Dahmen is in unchartered waters. He once shared a lead on the Canadian Tour in 2013 (finished T4), but in 2014 he led by five and won by the same number. On the PGA Tour he has twice been T6 and twice been T7 after 54 holes. He’s always turned those chances into top tens, but not yet a win.

Matt Cooper