The third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am treated everyone in the field with extremely difficult conditions, most notably wind gusts of more than 35 mph that forced a two-and-a-half-hour delay of play.
But like a postman, neither rain nor wind could stop Jimmy Walker from shooting a 4-under 67 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club and building a six-shot lead. Walker is 13 under overall while Tim Wilkinson and Hunter Mahan are tied for second at 7 under.
While Walker has built what might be an insurmountable lead, here are an additional 5 Things you need to know from Saturday’s third round:
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1. TOUGH DRAW: So much for the thinking that with both weekend rounds at Pebble Beach, players in that draw had the edge. Like Jordan Spieth.
Seems like a mulligan is required there, because the 20-year-old got battered and bruised in his 15 holes at Pebble, tumbling from view.
Having started the day tied for the lead at 9 under with Jimmy Walker, Spieth was considered by some to have a good track to victory. But he bogeyed Pebble’s gentle opening hole and became totally knocked upside down when he got to the demanding stretch of the most exposed holes. He bogeyed the par-5 sixth, then the par-4 eighth, and at the 466-yard ninth Spieth was wide right off the tee, wide left with his approach, and made double-bogey.
Out in 40, he added bogeys at 13 and 14 before making a birdie at 15 before darkness settled in. When he resumes play Sunday morning, Spieth will have a 5-footer to save par at 16, but his standing is a far different story. At 4 under, Spieth is a whopping nine back and there’s little doubt that Pebble was the toughest of the three venues Saturday.
Of the top 17 names on the leaderboard when play was halted, only six played Round 3 at Pebble Beach. Walker (4-under 67) played Monterey Peninsula, as did those who are presently tied for second – Tim Wilkinson (69) and Hunter Mahan (72).
Spieth wasn’t the only Pebble Beach casualty. So was defending champion Brandt Snedeker. He started the day at level par and in need of a solid round to make the cut. Instead, he went out in 41, then ended his day with a sprint. At 8 over for the tournament, Snedeker knew play was likely to be called for darkness, so he and amateur partner Toby Wilt took off. He left playing competitor Brian Gay at 16 and played the 17th and 18th (making birdie on each hole, by the way) just to get done.
Not that Snedeker will remember the round, because he shot 77 and missed the cut by a mile.
So, too, was Geoff Ogilvy beat up by Pebble. He started the day tied for 28th, but made doubles at 10 and 18, then went to the front and shot 41 for an 81 that left him outside the cut.
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2. POSSIBLE, PERHAPS, MAYBE: Phil Mickelson is eight shots back of Jimmy Walker’s lead. So while Lefty’s chances of a final-round comeback are slim, Mickelson knows what he needs to do to make one happen.
“I got to go out and get a hot round, kind of like I did a couple years ago,” Mickelson said, referring to his win in 2012 when he rallied from from six shots back after three rounds. “I certainly think it’s out there. That’s what I’ll be gunning for. I’m playing and hitting the ball well enough to do it.”
Mickelson’s confidence Saturday was similar after the third round in 2012 when he was six shots back of Charlie Wi.
“I think I’m five or six shots back, but I also know that this golf course, you can come out and get a quick start, make some birdies and when that happens, it’s tough to follow suit,” Mickelson said after the third round in 2012. “So I’m in a nice situation where if I can get a hot hand early, I can make a run on the leaderboard.”
That year, Mickelson would start with three birdies and an eagle over his first six holes en route to an 8-under 64 and a two-shot victory.
The last time a player on the PGA Tour came from eight shots back was Kyle Stanley at the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The conditions will likely be as difficult in Sunday’s final round as they were in Saturday’s third round. But the conditions matter not to Mickelson, one of the most experienced players in the field having played 68 rounds in the event.
“If it’s poor conditions, I’ve got to let the leader come back a little bit and so it won’t make a difference either way,” Mickelson said. “I’ve got to go out and shoot a good round tomorrow relative to the conditions.”
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3. CONSOLATION PRIZE: Rory Sabbatini started the third round five shots out of the lead at 4 under, but along with his partner Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, they were six shots ahead in the amateur portion of the event.
That was before the wind and rain of Saturday, however.
Sabbatini found the weather difficult and shot a 5 over 77. He likely will miss the cut once the delayed third round is completed on Sunday morning.
As for the team of Sabbatini/Mycoskie: the two saw their six-shot lead cut in half. At 26 under, they lead by three shots over Brice Garnett and amateur James Hinton.
“I was able to make par or net birdie on a couple,” Mycoskie said of the third round. “And then on the holes that I was out of it, which were quite a few, he made some birdies and saved pars. I mean at 3 under today, that’s the hardest day at Pebble Beach I’ve ever seen.”
Added Sabbatini: “I think that it’s kind of a very strange situation. I think it definitely allows for someone to be a lot more aggressive and go out there. I would say the chances of me making playing cut are slim to none, and I think slim just left the building.
“But I got to go out there and approach it almost like a Wednesday pro‑am. Just go out there and let it go.”
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4. LIKE A NEW MAN: Kenny McDowell recognized the Srixon hat worn by his playing partner, not to mention the guy’s swing and the mannerisms, but he had to do a double-take when he returned to Pebble Beach Golf Links after a two-and-a-half-hour weather delay. There was just something different about the guy.
“He was like a new man,” said Kenny of his son, Graeme. “I think the break did him good. He went to the range and worked things out.”
Graeme McDowell agreed wholeheartedly. He had sandwiched birdies at the second and fifth around bogeys at three and four, but the world’s 15th-ranked player felt out of sorts. True, the howling wind was a major obstacle, but when play was halted just after 11 a.m. with McDowell in the fairway at the par-4 eighth, “it was a good thing,” said the father.
Upon his return at 1:30 p.m., McDowell did bogey the par-4 ninth, but no big deal. The hole was basically a par 5 on this day. The bogey at the par-3 12th did sting a little, and it dropped the Northern Irishman to 1 over for the tournament, but still, he felt okay. And when he birdied the par-5 14th and par-4 15th, then rode home with three straight pars, McDowell’s round of 72 had him at 1 under, good enough to make the cut.
“I get another chance to come back, to try and go low and get the game ready,” said McDowell, who is back at Pebble Beach, site of his 2010 U.S. Open victory, for the first time.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Andrew Loupe started with bogeys on three of his first five holes at Spyglass Hill, then finished bogey-bogey-bogey. But his round of 76 put him at 3 under as he made his first PGA Tour cut. . . . David Duval shot 74 at Monterey Peninsula and made the cut. . . . Padraig Harrington got to 4 under on his round at Monterey Peninsula, 7-under for the tournament, then bogeyed 11, made a triple-bogey at 12, and doubled the 13th. He played the next five holes in 1-under to shoot 72 and at 2 under he sits presently in a tie for 31st. . . . With five players still on the course, Pebble played to a field average of 75.098. There are three players still to finish at Monterey Peninsula (field average 73.419) and two to finish at Spyglass Hill (73.808). . . . Ryan Palmer made the only birdie at Pebble’s 10th hole, John Peterson scored the only birdie at the par-3 12th, and James Driscoll had the only birdie at 16 (though four players still have to play the 16th). . . . Blame it on the wind direction: There were 21 birdies at the par-5 14th, but only 14 at the par-5 18th. Normally there are far more at 18. . . . Another result of a stiff breeze that came in off the water: There were more birdies at the par-3 fifth (six) than the par-5 sixth (four).