5 Things: Hoffman rises into lead alone
From co-leader to leader, Charley Hoffman rose above the crowd Saturday at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Webb Simpson charged 11 spots up the leaderboard to grab second place with a 65, the low round of the day; he's just two shots off the lead. Hoffman's second-round co-leaders are still in the hunt: Kevin Streelman stands third after a 69, while Steve LeBrun stands T-6 after an even-par 71.
Here are 5 Things to know about the third round of action at Harbour Town Golf Links:
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1. HOFFMAN TAKES CHARGE EARLY: Four birdies during his first five holes gave Hoffman the edge from the get-go. He then ran together nine straight pars to hold his ground. A birdie at 15 got him to 11 under.
At the 18th, Hoffman's approach shot into the wind finished about 30 yards short and right, and his pitch left him about a 10-foot putt that he rolled into the center of the cup to stay bogey-free for the day.
Hoffman had a great day with the putter, which he attributed to his work around the greens.
"I was able to leave myself underneath the hole because I was chipping all day long. So I was getting uphill looks at putts," he said. "If you're hitting iron shots, they're a little tougher, because you're probably leaving yourself some downhill sliders."
Moist greens enabled aggressive play, he said, though he missed on too many approaches to capitalize. Nonetheless, his score was second-best of the day, only behind Simpson and matched by five others: Ben Crane, Jim Furyk, James Hahn, Trevor Immelman and Jerry Kelly.
Career experience and solid course management are keys at Heritage, he said, acknowledging that he struggled his first couple of times before starting to skip the event.
"I don't think I was mature enough to play this course – if I was hitting it like this (today), I probably would have shot 90," he said. "I've learned that there are spots to miss on this course, and how to play it."
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2. WEBB'S WEEK? Webb Simpson didn't have the type of week he was hoping for at Augusta National.
The defending U.S. Open champion shot 73-76 to miss the cut in his second Masters appearance. That came after Simpson said he was "feeling good" about his game heading into Augusta after claiming medalist honors at the unofficial Tavistock Cup.
But despite a poor performance in the year's first major championship, Simpson has a chance to return to the win column this week in Hilton Head for the first time since Olympic Club.
Simpson carded a 6-under 65, his second bogey-free round of the tournament, and will enter Sunday's final round of the RBC Heritage at 9 under. He's just two shots back of leader Charley Hoffman.
The 65 on Saturday also bested Simpson's previous career-low round at Harbour Town by three strokes.
This week marks Simpson's 11th PGA Tour event of the season. He's missed three cuts and has just two top 10s, one of those being a quarterfinals appearance at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which came a week after finishing T-6 at the Northern Trust Open. He also has just two other top 10s since last June's major triumph.
But he has at least one thing going for him this week.
Simpson entered the RBC Heritage coming off two straight missed cuts (Masters and Bay Hill). The last time he missed two cuts in a row on Tour, he won the next tournament he played. That was last year, when he followed missed cuts at the Players Championship and the Memorial Tournament with a victory at the U.S. Open.
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3. PARNEVIK'S BENEVOLENT MISS: Imagine a 5-footer for par. Then imagine being forced to think about it overnight, step up and make it first thing in the morning.
The task was one that Jesper Parnevik couldn't fulfill – and it had a dramatic effect on the cut line when the second round ended early Saturday after a weather delay. Rather than 2 over being T-71 and cause for a ticket out of Hilton Head, it was good for T-70 and weekend play.
Nicolas Colsaerts or Ryan Palmer could have returned the cut line to 1 over with a birdie at No. 18 to close out their second round early Saturday, but both managed par. Same for Casey Wittenberg, who ended his second round at No. 9 in the morning light.
In effect, Parnevik's bogey expanded the weekend field by 20 golfers. The 91 players making the cut was tied for the most in a single Tour event since 1970 (The 1981 Travelers Championship was the other).
"Everybody in the field at +2, put your envelopes in my locker..." Parnevik posted on his Twitter account.
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4. BOSTON COULD CHEER BOGEY: Among those who got in because of Parnevik's miss: Boston native James Driscoll, who has pledged $1,000 for every birdie he makes this week and next to The One Fund Boston to help victims of the marathon bombing.
"@JesperParnevik can I buy you a drink or 14 tonight ? #birdiesforboston," Driscoll posted on his Twitter account.
"@jdriscollpga You owe a few drinks..." replied Parnevik.
Driscoll netted two more birdies Saturday en route to an otherwise disappointing 76.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Parnevik and Driscoll were among the 21 players who didn't make the secondary cut at the end of the third round, paring the field to 70 at 2 over. . . . D.H. Lee and William McGirt carded the day's high round, 80. . . . Crane, Hahn and Immelman were the day's big movers, climbing 47 spots to T-23 with their 66s. . . . Luke Donald's even-par third round (three birdies, three bogeys) dropped the World No. 6 by 10 spots to T-14. Brandt Snedeker, World No. 5, shot 71 to climb 10 spots to T-60. . . . CBS memorialized late announcer Pat Summerall at the end of the broadcast, showing highlights of his NFL career before moving to clips of his career behind the microphone. Summerall died Tuesday at age 82 and was remembered Saturday at a service in Plano, Texas.