Keegan Bradley’s perfect day and Grayson Murray’s new lease on life among takeaways from the 3rd round of Sony Open in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Keegan Bradley had one of those days every golfer dreams of —the type where everything falls into place.

“Today was one of those days where just like I had great numbers. I could see every shot,” he said. “I just had a blast out there with Scotty (Vail), my caddie. We just did a great job together.”

Bradley made eight birdies en route to shooting 7-under 63 at Wailae Country Club to share the 54-hole in the Sony Open in Hawaii with Grayson Murray at 14-under 196.

For Bradley, it all began when he struck a perfect drive, a perfect 6-iron and rolled in the birdie putt.

“I just felt calm all day, which isn’t normal for me,” said Bradley, an understatement from one of the most fidgety golfers in the game.

Sony Open: Final round tee times

Bradley said he has always enjoyed playing this tournament and thought it was a course where he could win despite the fact he has never recorded a top-10 finish in 11 previous appearances. He blamed a balky putter in the past for his less-than-stellar record. But this week, he has gained more than two strokes on the greens in the first and third rounds and ranks T-11 for the week. After struggling on the greens when the governing bodies banned his trusty belly putter, Bradley’s putter has become a weapon again.

“I never knew if I’d get back to a level where I was with the belly putter,” he said. “At this point, I feel like I’ve surpassed it. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of dark days.”

He made a clutch sandy at 16 and then stuffed a 6 iron inside 7 feet at the par-3 17th and made the putt.

“Just a perfect cut 6 iron into the wind,” he said.

Bradley knows he likely won’t be able to count on hitting so many perfect shots in the final round, but he’s embracing the chance to earn his seventh career PGA Tour title.

“I’ve been here before and I’ve never felt more confident being in this position,” said Bradley, who has converted a 54-hole lead or co-lead into victory just once in five previous occasions in his career. “I now look forward to days like tomorrow.”

A new lease on life for Murray

2024 Sony Open in Hawaii
Grayson Murray acknowledges the crowd after making his putt on the first hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Grayson Murray is attempting to script his own redemption story this week on the PGA Tour. He shot 6-under 64 on Saturday to share the 54-hole lead with Bradley.

One week after Chris Kirk, who has been living a life of sobriety, won The Sentry to kick off the season, Murray, who said he’s eight months sober, is attempting to follow suit.

“Chris is an inspiration,” Murray said. “You know, I think he’s been pretty vocal about his story as well. You can see the success after he got sober, how quickly he had success out here on Tour, became the player that he was before and even better.”

The 30-year-old Murray is back on the PGA Tour after winning twice last season on the Korn Ferry Tour. Murray, who won the PGA Tour’s 2017 Barbasol Championship as a rookie, said he’s treating this season as if it is his rookie year all over again.

“I was young and thought I was invincible. Wasn’t doing the correct stuff off the course to really give myself the best chance to succeed out here,” he said.“My scooter accident in Bermuda was really a low point in my life. You know, I’ve obviously been vocal about the alcohol use in the past. I’m over eight months sober now. I have a beautiful fiancée that I love so much and who is so supportive of me, and my parents are so supportive of me.”

Murray said he feels at peace on the course and it is showing in his golf – rounds of 69-63-64 – have him in position to return to the winner’s circle.

“I know how to win. I mean, I’m not afraid of the moment,” he said. “I’m not going to back down.”

Stevens seeks debut Tour title

2024 Sony Open in Hawaii
Sam Stevens hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Stevens shot a bogey-free 63 on Saturday. His only miscue was calling the Tour’s developmental circuit the Web.Com, its former name, instead of the Korn Ferry Tour.

“Maybe it’s just engrained in my mind. Yeah, my bad to Korn Ferry. My apologies,” Stevens said.

But he doesn’t have to apologize for his stellar play this week. He ranks first in driving distance and sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. The 27-year-old Stevens is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour.

“It’s hard to win out here. There are a lot of guys that haven’t won out here,” he said. “Yeah, I’m excited to have the opportunity. I was in this position a couple times last year with a chance to win. Sometimes I played good and gave myself a chance; other times, not so much. You just can’t get too flustered if you make a couple mistakes early.

“Couple times last year when I was in contention I let that bother me a little bit too much and things can spiral quickly, so hopefully I can just be kind of calm, and if I hit a bad shot, move on to the next one and try and keep moving forward out there.”

Pavon living his dream

2024 Sony Open in Hawaii
Matthieu Pavon hits his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t last too long, but when Matthieu Pavon made birdie at the eighth hole on Saturday, the Frenchman held sole possession of the lead at the Sony Open in his debut as a member of the PGA Tour.

Pavon went on to shoot 3-under 67 and improve to 11-under and a five-way tie for fourth place heading into the final round.

The 31-year-old Pavon went out in 4-under 31 but his birdie binge dried up. He made a three-putt bogey at 15, but then again he was outside the cut line on Friday after three bogeys in his first six holes . But he made seven birdies, including five in a row to end the day and has played his way into the second to last group on Sunday.

Pavon, who won the Spanish Open on the DP World Tour last season, is one of 10 players from that circuit to earn a PGA Tour card for this year, the first time that DP World Tour players have had the opportunity to do so.

“Means everything,” Pavon said. “Since I’m a kid I dream about the PGA Tour, playing there, winning there, so having a chance to come here and play is just incredible.”

Kirk and others lurking

2024 Sony Open in Hawaii
Chris Kirk hits his bunker shot on the first hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kirk didn’t have his best stuff on Saturday but shot 3-under 67 and is now 40 under for his first seven rounds of the 2024 season.

He’s trying to become the first player to win the first two events of a Tour season since Ernie Els in 2003; he also would become the seventh player to win both Hawaii events during their careers, with Cameron Smith performing the feat most recently (2020 Sony Open in Hawaii, 2022 Sentry).

“It’s going to take a lower round than what I was hoping it would take going into today,” he said. “That’s the way it goes. Happy with the way I’m playing. Hope I can go catch fire tomorrow.”

Ben An is tied with him after a 68, his seventh consecutive under-par round to start the 2024 season.

“Could have been the worse, fourth place,” he said. “Coming into this week if you told me before I started I would definitely take it. Three back, you know, just got to tidy things up tomorrow.”

Ben Silverman earned his PGA Tour card back for the first time since 2019. He holed out a bunker shot at No. 4 for birdie en route to shooting 64 and climbing into contention for his first win at 11 under.

Japan’s Taiga Semikawa also is in the group at 11 under (T-4). Little known fact, he’s named after Tiger Woods: “I kind of took in his style, growing up watching his aggressive style, and I think that kind of fits my personality and what I tried to do playing golf here today,” said Semikawa, who made the cut here and finished T-67 last year.

2024 Sony Open in Hawaii
Taiga Semikawa celebrates making his putt on the 16th hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek