Los Angeles (AFP)
Ryan Palmer birdied six of the last seven holes to share the lead with fellow American Harris England after Saturday’s third round of the PGA American Tournament of Champions.
Palmer shot a nine-under par 64 without a bogey to tie the Englishman, who shot a 66 without a bogey, on 198 21 under 21 after 54 holes on the par 73 plantation course in Kapalua, Hawaii.
“It was pretty perfect,” Palmer said of his round. “I drove it pretty well. My putting has really evolved. ”
The Englishman hasn’t made a bogey since the seventh hole of the first round.
“Extremely satisfied,” English said. “Normally Saturday is my hardest day. I feel like I played very well, stuck to my strategy, remained patient.
“I’m confident about my game. I felt like I hit really well. ”
Collin Morikawa, seventh, winner of last year’s PGA Championship, was third of 199 with compatriot American Daniel Berger fourth of 201 and South Korean Im Sung-jae and Justin Thomas, third, sharing fifth of 202.
Palmer has not won a PGA solo event since the Sony Open 2010 in Hawaii and the Englishman has not won a PGA solo event since 2013 in Mayakoba.
But both qualified for the Champions event by qualifying for the Circuit Championship last year in a special one-year registration rule change due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A barrage of rear-nine birds by officers staged Sunday’s shootout for the crown in the first test of 2021.
The English birdieed the third par 4 from just under 12 feet, sank a seven-foot putt for birdie the fifth par 5, and added another birdie putt just within 30 feet at the eighth par 3 to reach 17 cents.
English dropped his tee shot just over 17 feet and landed the par 3 11th bird putt to stretch his lead to three strokes.
Palmer put 12-foot bird putts at the first and seventh holes around another at the fifth par 5, but then fired five birdies in a row from the 12th to 16th holes, four from inside six feet and the last of just over seven.
Morikawa and Palmer tied the English for the lead time and again but he responded to the challenge each time to regain the advantage.
At the par 4 14th, he found a bunker on the green off the tee, threw 17 feet and sank the birdie putt. On the 15th par-5, English dropped his third just two feet from the cup and kicked it.
Palmer took the lead again at 16, but the English sank a nine-foot bird putt at 16 to regain the lead at 21 under.
At the 18th par 5, Palmer hit the green in half and birdied to tie the Englishman again.
– No penalty for Palmer –
English had to scramble at 18 when his second shot entered the deep greenside. He exploded and curled up in an eight-foot stretch putt to keep his share of the lead.
“I just pulled it up a bit and made it go too far with the wind,” English said. “I got a decent lie and was able to put a stick on it. I was able to get out of there with a par. Pretty lucky on that. ”
Palmer was also lucky. After the round, he was questioned by officials about his actions on the ninth hole, where he botched a chip and hit a divot as his ball was still rolling nearby. The ball was not in the angle to hit the divot and came to rest without approaching it.
No penalties were imposed but Palmer was happy to still share the lead.
“I made the old kick a divot,” Palmer said. “The ball stopped five feet from me. The balloon was not going to stop near where I was.
“There was no way for me to improve my lie. There is no way for me to try to cheat the game. ”
© 2021 AFP