Steele stays firm in the wind

Matt Cooper
Rotoworld

Recap of the day

Better scoring conditions and much of the field took advantage – three of them in particular. Mark Anderson was the first of the trio to card a 64 and it moved him 36 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for seventh on 6-under for the week. Kevin Kisner’s 64 lifted him from T24 to solo third on 8-under. But for Brendan Steele 64 blows took him three clear of the field on 12-under 198. An Aussie Cameron remains in the hunt, but it is definitely Smith now, rather than Davis as earlier in the week. He shot 66 and holds solo second on 9-under. Behind Kisner there is a three-way tie for fourth that includes Webb Simpson (66), Collin Morikawa (68) and Ryan Palmer (68).

Leaderboard: -12 Brendan Steele, -9 Cameron Smith, -8 Kevin Kisner, -7 Webb Simpson, Collin Morikawa, Ryan Palmer

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Notables: -Charles Howell III, -3 Brendon Todd, Zach Johnson, -2 Brandt Snedeker, Hideki Matsuyama

Low round of the day: The 64 that Steele, Kisner and Anderson struck

 

Revised outright betting

Steele 11/8, Smith 4/1, Kisner 7/1, Simpson 8/1, Morikawa 10/1, Palmer 16/1

 

Sunday weather forecast

The wind will be down to about 15 mph (gusts likely, but nothing like earlier in the week). The skies will be overcast and there is a 70% chance of rain. Temperatures in the high 70s and humidity of around 80%.

 

Leaders after at 54 holes

Brendan Steele (64) – When he made two early bogeys his end-of-day score would have seemed impossible, but he responded with six birdies and an eagle. An interesting combo so far: He leads the field for SG: Approach the Green (7.651) and Putting (9.564) yet is outside the top 50 for Off the Tee and Around the Green.

Cameron Smith (66) – A similar card with one early bogey, but he left the bounce back late, carding four par breakers in the final five holes. He ranks top ten in only one SG category, second for Putting (7.067)

Kevin Kisner (64) – And repeat! Kisner made bogey at No. 2, then weighed in with seven birdies. In contrast to Steele and Smith his long game is responsible for his lofty position. He’s first for SG: Tee to Green (8.520) and second for Approach the Green (5.937). His low putting numbers are accounted for by a poor second round effort with the flat stick.

Webb Simpson (66) – All his SG ranks are top 50, three of them top 20, but just the one top ten. That is Putting (4.293) for which he is seventh.

Collin Morikawa (68) – An even more solid set of SG numbers that Simpson. He is 33rd or better in all five, but top ten in three. He’s tenth for Approach the Green (4.363), ninth for Around the Green (2.025) and third for Tee to Green (7.197).

Ryan Palmer (68) – Ranks first for SG Off the Tee (4.228) and second for Tee to Green (7.794), but 40th for Putting and 52nd Around the Green.

 

Fate of the Favourites

Only Matsuyama made the cut and he’s been superb since limping home in 74 blows on Thursday, carding a pair of 67s to lie T30 on 2-under. He’s not a favorite, but Charles Howell III is a Waialae perennial and his effort this year has proved it. Opening with a 72 left him on the cut line, but he’s powered through the field since then, adding 67-66 to be T11 and eyeing an 11th top ten in his 19th start at Waialae.

 

Quotes

Brendan Steele (64) – “There will be no taking the foot off the accelerator. I've got to go make as many birdies as I can. It's going to be tough. I'm going to have to battle. But it's nothing that I haven't seen before.”

Cameron Smith (66) – “I've come from behind before in tournaments and I'll draw from that tomorrow. Should be a nice battle. Hopefully a bit tougher conditions will bring a lot of people into it. It's just being smart and hopefully the putts drop.”

Kevin Kisner (64) – ““I think that's the biggest key to the whole week, is seeing how the golf ball was flying last week; not coming fresh off the couch and Christmas break and trying to play in these conditions. I told my caddie that we're going to be more prepared than most of the guys. I feel comfortable, and hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”

Webb Simpson (66) – “If you try to be aggressive with this amount of wind on some of these holes it can jump up and bite you pretty quick and you make a quick bogey from the middle of the fairway. I’ll attack when I feel like it's a green light, and be conservative when there is trouble around.”

Collin Morikawa (68) – “I've put myself in this position a few times now and I feel comfortable. I'm not thinking about anything else other than just trying to make birdies. I'm excited for tomorrow. This is where I want to be. I wanted to put myself in contention week in and week out.”

Charles Howell III (66) – “It's just so different, we're just not used to this. This is my 19th or 20th start and never seen it like this. So many holes are playing so much differently and you can see it in the scoring. The golf course has a lot of teeth to it.”

 

Road to victory at Waialae

2019 – Matt Kuchar R1: 3rd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2018 – Patton Kizzire R1: 20th, R2: 7th, R3: 2nd

2017 – Justin Thomas R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2016 – Fabian Gomez R1: 68th, R2: 16th, R3: 5th

2015 – Jimmy Walker R1: 12th, R2: 8th, R3: 1st

2014 – Jimmy Walker R1: 5th, R2: 5th, R3: 4th

Notes: Bad news for the distant chasers because this is not a course that has yielded to them in the past. Of the last 24 winners, each and every one was T6 or better at this stage and only two came from four shots back of the lead, none further. 20 of the 24 was T3 or better at this point. But if those trends are to change the likely conditions would be blustery and unpredictable ...

 

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

2019 Matt Kuchar 1st

2018 Tom Hoge 3rd

2017 Justin Thomas 1st

2016 Brandt Snedeker 2nd, Zac Blair 3rd

2015 Jimmy Walker 1st

2014 Chris Kirk 2nd

Notes: Since 1996 30 men have held or shared the lead after three rounds and 13 have claimed the win.

 

Focus on – Brendan Steele leading

The 36-year-old has four times solo led an event at this stage. On the first occasion he spurned a three-shot lead on the Canadian Tour in 2006, he then won the 2010 Nationwide (now Korn Ferry) Tour Championship, ditto the 2011 Texas Open, before shooting 76 to end the 2015 Frys.com Open T17. In the 21st century four men have held a lead of three shots or more heading into the final lap here at Waialae and each of them ended Sunday victorious. This is just his second visit to the course – he shot 77-70 to miss the cut back in 2011.

 

Focus on – Cameron Smith chasing

The Aussie is still looking for his first PGA Tour win, individually at least (he won the pairs event in New Orleans). He has only ever been second after 54 holes once, in the European Tour’s 2017 Australian PGA Championship. He was three shots back, carded 68, and won the subsequent play-off.

 

Focus on – Kevin Kisner chasing

This is the fifth time Kisner has been third with 18 holes to play on the PGA Tour and whilst he is yet to win at this level he does have experience of overhauling such circumstances. Back in 2010 he was three back of the lead in the Mylan Classic on the second tier and his final round 67 earned him a one-shot victory.

 

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