3-way tie atop leader­board with Woods at the bot­tom

Tri-City Herald (Sunday) - - Television/ Sports -

Tony Finau had never seen Al­bany Golf Club un­til the pro-am at the Hero World Chal­lenge, and one as­pect of the course caught his eye im­me­di­ately.

“When I’m play­ing well, I feel like I can score on any golf course, es­pe­cially a course that has five par 5s,” Finau said.

He made birdie on four of them Satur­day, lead­ing him to a 5-un­der 67 that gave him a share of the lead with Hen­rik Sten­son and Jon Rahm and set up a wide-open con­clu­sion that could fea­ture more than half the 18-man field.

The tour­na­ment host is not among them.

Tiger Woods took three shots from just off the green at the par-5 third hole – chip­ping is tough on ev­ery­one at Al­bany – for a dou­ble bo­gey and a ragged start that never got much bet­ter un­til a few late birdies sal­vaged a 72.

He was in last place, 11 shots out of the lead.

“It’s def­i­nitely not alarm­ing, for sure,” said Woods, in his first 72-hole event since win­ning the Tour Cham­pi­onship. “I just haven’t played clean.”

Sten­son and Rahm each had a 3-un­der 69 to join Finau at 13-un­der 203.

Sten­son and Finau are go­ing for their first vic­tory of the year, even though this hol­i­day event is not at­tached to any tour and is con­sid­ered un­of­fi­cial ex­cept for the world rank­ing points, which are more than four of the do­mes­tic events in the fall on the PGA Tour.

Finau did ev­ery­thing right ex­cept win this year, in­clud­ing his first Ry­der Cup ap­pear­ance. Sten­son has won at least once around the world in five of the last six years.

Win­ning is al­ways nice,” said Sten­son, a run­ner-up to Hideki Maruyama two years ago in the Ba­hamas. “It never gets old no mat­ter how big or small the tour­na­ment. You can’t say that this is a small tour­na­ment given the field. Who you’re play­ing against is ob­vi­ously go­ing to give you a nice boost if you man­aged to win it.”

Gary Wood­land, who was over par to­ward the end of his open­ing round, had a 67 and sud­denly is only two shots be­hind. Rickie Fowler also had a 67, and sud­denly the de­fend­ing cham­pion is back in the mix at three shots be­hind.

Fowler’s name was men­tioned more than once Satur­day. A year ago, he started seven shots be­hind and closed with a tour­na­ment-best 61 to win by four.

“If you get wind all day, you don’t ex­pect peo­ple to low,” Rahm said. “But I don’t think they did last year, and Rickie shot 11 un­der, right? I’ve kept say­ing it the same way. I think who­ever plays the par 5s … with the bet­ter score’s go­ing to have a chance.”

Ad­van­tage Finau, at least over the last two days.

He de­cided to add 2 de­grees of loft to his put­ter af­ter open­ing with a 72, and he has fol­lowed with rounds of 64-67. Most of that is due to the par 5s, which he has played in 9 un­der the last two rounds.

“We play a lot of golf cour­ses on the PGA Tour where there’s only two or three, so to be able to have those cou­ple ex­tra par 5s, you just know you’re go­ing to have some op­por­tu­ni­ties to score,” Finau said.

“And I’ve been able to take ad­van­tage of those op­por­tu­ni­ties on those par 5s.”

Satur­day had plenty of ac­tion be­yond the birdies.

Dustin John­son, one shot out of the lead, took two chips and one putt to get up the slope right of the green on the par-3 sec­ond and made triple bo­gey.

He was 4 over for the round af­ter two holes, got it back to even par at the turn and had to set­tle for a 72. He still was only four shots be­hind, along with Xan­der Schauf­fele (66).

Patrick Cant­lay also made triple bo­gey on No. 2 – play­ing with John­son, giv­ing them a com­bined score of 12 on the par 3 – af­ter chip­ping over the green and tak­ing two shots to get on. He also was the only player in a rain suit this week, but only to step into the wa­ter on No. 12 to play a shot.

Alex Noren had a 70.


Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship: De­fend­ing cham­pion Cameron Smith shot a 5-un­der 67 to in­crease his lead to three strokes over Marc Leish­man af­ter three rounds at Royal Pines in Gold Coast, Aus­tralia.

Mau­ri­tius Open: Kurt Ki­tayama and Justin Hard­ing were tied for the lead at 16 un­der par and held a three-shot ad­van­tage head­ing into the fi­nal round in Beau Champ, Mau­ri­tius.


Tony Finau walks down the fair­way dur­ing the HSBC Cham­pi­ons in Oc­to­ber at the She­shan In­ter­na­tional Golf Club in Shang­hai. He’s part of a three-way tie for the lead af­ter three rounds at the Hero World Chal­lenge in the Ba­hamas.

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