Charles Howell III, Webb Simpson on first page of leaderboard at the Sony Open
Despite an uncharacteristic 18 in the 70s on Thursday, Charles Howell III followed it up with 7-under 133 over the next 36 holes to sit in a tie for 11th at 4 under with four other golfers through three rounds.
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Despite an uncharacteristic 18 in the 70s on Thursday, Charles Howell III followed it up with 7-under 133 over the next 36 holes to sit in a tie for 11th at 4 under with four other golfers through three rounds. While he has never won here in 18 appearances dating back to 2002, Howell has pocketed $2.83 million in career earnings that includes 10 top-10s and two ties for runner-up.
Howell had one of 33 rounds in the 60s on Saturday. That’s exactly half the field to make it through to the weekend. Past U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson also had a 66 on Saturday to move into a tie for fourth. He has the kind of game that could put him into contention, particularly if some of the leaders start coming back toward the field in today’s pressure-packed final round.
As for the biggest key?
“I think understanding when to be aggressive and when not to,” Simpson said. “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. You make a quick bogey from the middle of the fairway. I think just understanding that being disciplined, and attacking when I feel like it’s a green light, and being conservative when there is trouble around.”
4 past champs come through
It was another day at the office for Jimmy Walker — another wet one.
Walker is among four of the 10 past Sony Open in Hawaii champions entered this year who made the two-day cut, in a tournament only a mudder would love.
Walker — who won here in 2014 and 2015 — barely made it to the weekend, right at the cutline at 1 over par. But he climbed 27 spots to T30 with a 3-under-par 67, punctuated by a birdie on his final hole of the day (No. 9, since he played the back nine first).
“You just stand under an umbrella for a while and gauge the wind, just be aware of what’s going on,” Walker said afterward, admitting that earlier success at this event helped his confidence.
“A lot of good memories, good mojo,” he said. “I still enjoy playing this golf course.”
Ryan Palmer, the 2010 champion, started the third round tied for fifth place at 5 under par. His 68 on Saturday moved him to T4 with Webb Simpson and Collin Morikawa, five strokes behind leader Brendan Steele.
“You just take each day one at a time,” Palmer said, when asked if rain and wind day after day make the game more difficult or players just adjust to grinding. “Today was not as bad, and the scores show it. You take what the wind gives you and you’re patient and have to understand that sometimes par is a good score.”
Zach Johnson (2009) shot par for the day with three birdies and three bogeys. The two-time major winner is at 3 under for the event and T23.
Jerry Kelly (2002) started the day even. His 1-over 71 on Saturday put him at tied for 50th.
Inside the numbers
As you might expect, the scoring average for the third round was 2.417 shots better than Thursday’s opening round for two reasons: less wind and rain. There were also only 66 golfers remaining from the 144 who teed it up in Thursday’s unruly conditions.
The back nine played 0.152 strokes easier than the front with a cumulative average after 545 holes of 70.839. If the wind and rain lay low today as much as Saturday, figure the scores might go even lower. The easiest hole was the par-5 18th, with a scoring averaging of 4.318 with three eagles, 40 birdies, 22 pars and one bogey by Carlos Ortiz, who begins today’s final round tied for 58th.
There was only one bogey-free round on Thursday, six on Friday and none on Saturday.