October 10, 2020 - 7:31 pm
Updated October 10, 2020 - 7:33 pm
Moving Day at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open saw a host of players go low to put themselves in contention. But the man with the brightest spotlight shining on him went the other direction.
On a day when Matthew Wolff shot 10-under 61 at TPC Summerlin to vault himself into the thick of things, U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau looked anything but dominant on his way to a par 71, one of only 10 players who failed to break par Saturday.
DeChambeau finds himself at 13-under 200, seven shots behind leaders Patrick Cantlay and Martin Laird. Wolff, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman and Austin Cook are two behind after another day of near-perfect conditions.
Playing in the final twosome, Laird and Cantlay shot bogey-free 65s. They’ll be in the final group again Sunday, both trying to win in Las Vegas for the second time.
“I feel like I birdied all the holes you’re kind of supposed to birdie,” Cantlay said. “So it was a good round.”
He expects more of the same Sunday.
“I’ll be aggressive when I hit the ball in the fairway and get a wedge in my hand,” he said of his final-round strategy. “Other than that, I’ll stay patient and try and shoot a good round like I did the first three days.”
Laird will take the same approach into the final round.
“I have had good rounds every day, so I’m not going to change anything,” said the 2009 champion. “It’s been working, and I’m in a good spot, so just keep going.”
Wolff played the first two rounds with DeChambeau and narrowly made the cut. But he broke out Saturday with his 61 that included a back-nine 28 featuring three eagles.
“I was really pleased with today,” said Wolff, who had the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open but finished a distance second to DeChambeau. “I felt like my swing was coming together, but on the front nine, I was still kind of looking for something. I found it kind of starting on 10, and then it just took us from there.”
Did it ever. Wolff hit a wedge to 8 feet for birdie on No. 10, then holed a lob wedge from 118 yards for eagle on No. 11. His next eagle came on the par-5 13th, where he made an 18-footer. On the short par-4 15th, he lofted a 3-wood 298 yards, landing softly for another 15-foot eagle putt.
“You never expect to hole out, but when it happens, it kind of just puts you in a really good mindset,” Wolff said.
He had a shot at 59, but left birdie putts on 17 and 18 on the edge of the cup.
“If you only shoot 2 under on the front, you feel like you never have a chance to shoot 59,” said Wolff, who only realized the opportunity after his miss at 17. “It didn’t creep in until then, but I gave myself as many good looks as I could and it just wasn’t meant to be.”
DeChambeau’s round went off the rails early, with wayward drives leading to double bogeys on Nos. 2 and 6, and bogeys on 4 and 5. He had slipped to 61st on the leaderboard until a midround rally that included four consecutive birdies.
But he couldn’t sustain the run, even making bogey on the par-4 15th, the easiest hole on the course.
“It’s golf, right?” DeChambeau said. “You’re never going to play your best all the time, right? I just felt like a couple things got off a little bit. I didn’t really hit bad shots, they just didn’t go where I wanted.”
He’ll begin Sunday in a tie for 31st with a big mission ahead in his final competitive round before the Masters in a month.
“I did a decent job of holding my head high and plugging forward,” DeChambeau said of the round. “Just one of those days.”
Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.