Kim’s lead down to one at Valero Open

Will try to go wire-to-wire to­day

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -

It may have been mov­ing day on Satur­day at the Valero Texas Open, but South Korea’s Si Woo Kim stood his ground atop the leader­board and a fired a 3-un­der 69 to stand at 15-un­der 201 af­ter three rounds to hold a one-shot lead over Corey Con­nors at the par-72 TPC San An­to­nio course.

Charley Hoff­man is two strokes back at 13-un­der af­ter post­ing a 64.

The 23-year-old Kim, who led by a shot af­ter the first round and four shots af­ter the sec­ond, bob­bled at the first with a bo­gey on the par 4, but re­cov­ered with birdies at Nos. 2 and 7 to make the turn at 1 un­der on the day.

It was a bit more dra­matic for Con­nors, who opened with three straight birdies fol­lowed by two more at the fifth and sev­enth to turn at 5-un­der 31. The 27-year-old Cana­dian made bo­gey at No. 10 – the same time co-leader at the time Kim made birdie – caus­ing a two-shot swing on the leader­board.

But birdies at 11 and 12 brought Con­nors back to share the lead with Kim, un­til a bo­gey at 15 dropped him from the top spot once again. Con­nors re­bounded with a birdie, mak­ing 2 at the par-3 16th to knot it up with Kim.

Kim, at­tempt­ing to be­come the first wire-to-wire win­ner since Brandt Snedeker at the 2018 Wyndham Cham­pi­onship, made birdie on 18 while Con­nors made par to work his way back into the solo lead.

Con­nors, who earned his spot in the field in a six-way play­off for one avail­able spot in a Mon­day qual­i­fier, is at­tempt­ing to be­come the first Mon­day qual­i­fier to win a PGA Tour event since Ar­jun At­wal at the 2010 Wyndham Cham­pi­onship. It was the third time in six at­tempts this sea­son that Con­nors has made it through via Mon­day qual­i­fy­ing.

He’s made the most of each op­por­tu­nity: Con­nors posted a run­ner-up fin­ish last October at the San­der­son Farms Cham­pi­onship in Jack­son, Miss., a ca­reer best, and tied for third at the Sony Open in Hawaii in Jan­uary. In 10 other PGA Tour starts this sea­son, he’s made the cut just twice.

The 42-year-old Hoff­man, a four-time PGA Tour win­ner, fired the low round of the day with his 8-un­der trip around the course. He had just one bo­gey, a 4 at the par-3 13th, but carded seven birdies and fin­ished with an ea­gle-3 at the par-5 18th to move into lone share of third place.

Scott Brown (67), Venezuela’s Jhonat­tan Ve­gas (67) and South Korea’s Ky­oung-Hoon Lee (69) are tied for fourth place at 11-un­der 205.

Texas na­tive Jor­dan Spi­eth, for­mer world No. 1 and Uni­ver­sity of Texas standout, was also in the fi­nal group of the day but strug­gled might­ily on the front nine and turned at 6-over 42. His score­card in­cluded bo­geys at Nos. 3 and 5, and dou­ble bo­geys at Nos. 4 and 9. He re­cov­ered on the back by shoot­ing a 31 with five birdies, in­clud­ing three straight on 16, 17 and 18, to post a 1-over 73 and is tied for 16th at 7-un­der 209.

Getty Im­ages

Si Woo Kim watches his shot from the sec­ond tee dur­ing Satur­day’s third round of the Valero Open in San An­to­nio.

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