Wood­land stays in front with big putt at Kapalua

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DOUG FERGUSON

Gary Wood­land made a 65-foot ea­gle putt and fin­ished with a birdie for a 5-un­der 68 to keep his three-shot lead in the Sen­try Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons on Satur­day.

Rory McIl­roy briefly caught him for the lead un­til the birdies stopped fall­ing. He shot 68 and starts the new year play­ing in the fi­nal group.

They were tied late in the third round when McIl­roy missed a good birdie chance on two par 5s at No. 15 and No. 18. In the group be­hind him, Wood­land reached the front of the 15th green and watched his putt up the slope and into the grain drop for ea­gle, with the pin still in the hole.

He holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the tough­est pin po­si­tion at the 18th – front and right – to end the day where he started.

Wood­land was at 17un­der 202, and would love noth­ing bet­ter than to se­cure an­other trip to Kapalua in the first tour­na­ment of the year.

Marc Leishman, who made a dou­ble bo­gey in the open­ing round and a triple bo­gey on Fri­day, lim­ited the dam­age to only one bo­gey. He had a 68 and was well in range, four shots be­hind.

Xan­der Schauf­fele (68) and Bryson DeCham­beau ( 70) were five back.

The only downer for Wood­land was learn­ing that his grand­mother in Kansas had died Fri­day night. This is a fam­ily va­ca­tion for most of the Wood­land crew – for Christ­mas, he flew out 11 rel­a­tives.

“She’s been down­hill for a lit­tle while now,” Wood­land said. “It’s been tough. And you try to pre­pare for that, but you never re­ally can.”

It was a tough day of work on the course, as the trade wind re­turned stronger than ex­pected.

McIl­roy man­aged to get through it with­out a bo­gey. He had a close call on the 16th, when he tried to atone for the missed birdie on the pre­vi­ous hole by go­ing at the flag and land­ing just over the green. He faced one of the fastest chips on the course, down the slope to­ward the Pa­cific hori­zon, and left it 12 short. He made his par to at least stay in range.

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