5 Things: Haas has share of the lead at AT&T
BETHESDA, Md. –– Jordan Spieth and Roberto Castro entered Saturday at the AT&T National tied for the lead at 7 under.
And that’s where the lead remains after three rounds as Congressional Country Club again played tough, allowing just 15 scores in the 60s on a hot, yet rain-free day in Bethesda.
But while Castro managed to shoot an even-par 71 Saturday, Spieth slipped back with a third-round 74. The 19-year-old rookie is three shots back of Castro, Bill Haas, James Driscoll and Andres Romero.
Jason Kokrak is another shot back at 6 under while Tom Gillis and Charlie Wi, who shot 66 and 65, respectively, are 5 under.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Saturday’s third-round action at the AT&T National:
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1. WEARING DAY FOR HAAS: It was an exhausting Saturday for Bill Haas.
Not only did he have to play 27-and-a-half holes after Friday’s second round was suspended due to inclement weather, but he also made just five pars to go along with three bogeys and a triple bogey.
So how does Haas still find himself in a share of the lead at 7 under? Well, he made nine birdies, as well.
“I was telling my caddie, my brother, coming in (that) I didn’t have it; I was running out of steam,” said Haas, whose colorful scorecard equated to a 3-under 68. “I don’t know if that was the triple (bogey) and the three bogeys that I made, or if that was just the 27-and-a-half holes I played today in this heat.”
Haas began his third round by alternating birdie and bogey for the first five holes. He birdied the par-5 sixth, par-4 eighth and par-5 ninth to make the turn at 4 under.
But a triple bogey at the par-4 11th after finding the water with his third shot dropped him back. He got those three shots back quickly, though, making birdies on three of his next four holes, before a bogey at No. 16.
“I don’t really know what to make of how I’m playing,” said Haas, who will tee off in the final group with Roberto Castro and James Driscoll at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Haas, the 2011 FedEx Cup champion, hasn’t cracked the top-30 in four tries at the AT&T. He does have six top-10s this season despite missing the cut in three of his last four events.
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2. SPIETH SLIPS: Jordan Spieth doesn’t necessarily believe in the law of averages as it pertains to golf.
But after having everything seemingly go right for him on Friday, hitting all 18 greens and shooting 5-under 66, not every ball decided to bounce his way on Saturday.
Spieth had a couple lip-outs, he missed fairways, was well short and long on some approach shots and got an unfavorable lie or two out of the sand.
“It’s easy to make excuses, but I just felt like I didn’t get the breaks today,” said Spieth, who entered the day tied for the lead but now finds himself three shots back at 4 under after a 3-over 74.
Spieth found himself at 9 under through the first two holes Saturday. He made a 10-footer for birdie at the par-4 first hole and then spun back a hybrid to about 2 feet to set up birdie at the par-3 second hole. He made just one other birdie, though.
His slide started at the par-4 fifth, where he missed the green long from the fairway before missing a 15-footer for par.
But it was his double bogey at the par-4 eighth, the easiest non-par-5 hole on the golf course Saturday, that really hurt. Spieth missed the green short from the rough, and then three-putted from 5 feet.
“It’s a putt I normally make and it made me second-guess a couple of the other putts I had coming right after that,” Spieth said of the par attempt.
He bogeyed the next hole, the par-5 ninth, after missing the green short from 100 yards out – “Not like me,” Spieth said. He then missed a 6-footer for par.
“It was very difficult at the turn for me to stay calm. . . . Maybe lost a couple shots with my emotions there, which is upsetting,” Spieth said.
At the par-3 13th, he missed another 6-footer that would’ve saved par. His last trouble hole came at the par-4 14th, where he missed the green again from the fairway. He hit it 38 feet past the hole from a greenside bunker and then missed the par putt.
Spieth said he was “OK” patience-wise on Saturday. “I knew things weren’t going to go as perfectly,” he said.
Spieth is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory, which would make him eligible for this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs. He already has special temporary status and is in good position to earn his Tour card for next season.
“Three strokes back,” Spieth said, “that’s nothing on this course and that can be made up quickly tomorrow.”
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3. DIDN’T EXPECT THAT: James Driscoll entered this week at the AT&T National with just one top-10 and three top-25s on the season.
“I wasn’t playing that great coming into the week, so I had no expectations,” Driscoll said. “I think sometimes in this game that’s the best thing you can do is not think . . . try to not predict what’s going to happen.”
Driscoll certainly didn’t predict he’d be co-leading after three rounds. Yet here he is, tied with three others at 7 under after shooting 3-under 68. He’s the only player in the field with three rounds in the 60s this week.
“Anytime you shoot three rounds in a row in the 60s, it’s something to feel good about,” said the former University of Virginia player. “It’s not perfect golf, but you don’t really have to play perfect golf sometimes.”
Driscoll hit just five fairways Saturday. He found only six in the second round. But 51 putts in the last two rounds, including 26 on Saturday have Driscoll in contention.
Driscoll hasn’t won the Tour, losing twice in playoffs, at the 2005 Zurich Classic and the 2009 Valero Texas Open. His record at AT&T isn’t great, either. He’s never finished better than T-61 in four starts.
“This is as good a chance as I’ve had (to win) for sure,” Driscoll said. “But there’s still 18 holes to go, so a lot of golf left.”
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4. UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY: Andres Romero has won before on the PGA Tour. That was in 2008, his rookie year, at the Zurich Classic.
But something Romero hasn’t done is hold at least a share of a 54-hole lead on Tour. That is, until this week.
Playing in Saturday’s lead group alongside Roberto Castro and Jordan Spieth, Romero shot 1-under 70 to move into a four-way tie for first at 7 under. He made four birdies and no bogeys through 10 holes, but then got into trouble at Nos. 12-13.
He drove it right into a creek at the par-4 11th, found a greenside bunker with his third shot and then missed a 3-footer for bogey. At the par-12th, he found another greenside bunker, this time from the fairway, before missing a 7-footer for par.
“I played really well today, and (Friday) was kind of similar,” Romero said. “The only difference is that I played two rough holes today.”
Romero has missed nine cuts in 14 Tour starts this season. He’s No. 160 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 210 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
So a victory at Congressional would do wonders in helping Romero earn his way back into some major tournaments. He’s played just two majors since 2009 after notching four top-10s in major championships between 2006-08.
“I’m not feeling very well at home watching majors on TV,” Romero said.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: With late-afternoon thunderstorms expected on Sunday, the final-round tee times have been pushed up. The first tee time is set for 8:30 a.m. local time with the lead group going off at 10:30 a.m. As it was for Saturday’s third round, players will play in threesomes off of split tees. The finish is expected around 3:30 p.m. . . . Brandt Snedeker is in position to post his seventh top-10 of the season after shooting a third-round 2-under 69 to move to 4 under. . . . After nine holes Saturday, Charlie Wi found himself at 1 over for the tournament. At day’s end, he’s 6 under, making seven birdies on his second nine (Congressional’s front nine) en route to a 7-under 29 score coming in. That is the lowest front-nine score in this event since Congressional was redesigned in preparation for the 2011 U.S. Open. Patrick Reed posted a 6-under 29 on the back nine during his second round, equaling Anthony Kim’s mark set during the first round in 2009. . . . Tom Gillis has missed nine cuts in 16 Tour starts this season, and doesn’t have a top-10 since last year’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. So it’s safe to say Gillis could use some more rounds like the one he had Saturday at Congressional. He made seven birdies and shot 5-under 66 to move to 5 under overall, two shots out of first. “Just one of those rounds you wish you could bottle up and have it when you wanted it,” said Gillis, who is trying to become the second 44-year-old to win on the PGA Tour in as many weeks after Ken Duke won last week’s Travelers Championship. . . . Nicolas Colsaerts ended a 38-hole bogey-free stretch with a triple bogey at the par-4 11th. He finished with a 2-over 73 to drop to 3 under.