2018 Sony Open: Hawaiian missile scare kicks off crazy Round 3
Tom Hoge leads after 54 holes in Honolulu
The golfers who made the cut at the Sony Open woke up to an errant message on their phones that a missile was headed for Hawaii. The terror lasted for only a few minutes, but it set a bizarre haze over the third round of the event for the rest of the day (more on that below).
When the dust settled on Saturday, Tom Hoge led the field at 16 under after 54 holes. He has a lot of company, though, as Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman are 15 under, Kyle Stanley is 14 under, and Chris Kirk is 13 under. In all, 13 players are within six of Hoge's slim lead.
On a course where there have been 35 scores of 5-under 65 or better, Sunday should be a fantastic day of veterans and young stars chasing a golfer -- Hoge -- who is looking for his first-ever PGA Tour win.
Here are five takeaways from Round 3 in Honolulu.
1. Island scare: Several players woke up to a terrifying message on their phones warning of a ballistic missile strike aimed at Hawaii. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it wasn't exactly the way you want to start your third round at the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth said his first thought was, "What is the appropriate thing to do to best survive?"
"Everyone was saying go away from the windows," said Spieth. "I kind of thought maybe, if we had a car, it would be wise to get in it and drive as far away from town as possible. It's not cool that it happened, but it certainly was a bit of a learning experience to try to figure out and do some research on what could possibly happen. Either that or just get off the islands, which we're going home tomorrow night."
Justin Thomas took a bit of a different view, though. After his round, he told Golf Channel he wasn't too worried.
"I was like, 'if it's my time, it's my time.' There's really nothing I can do," he said when a buddy alerted him of the warning. He turned on the news, saw nothing and spent the morning listening to music and hanging out. Others weren't as chill about it, and understandably so.
2. Patton Kizzire is a stud: After making a double on the first hole, Kizzire reeled off eight birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way. CBS Sports' Dottie Pepper mentioned him to me this time last year as somebody she was expecting big things from. After his victory in Mexico in the fall and a strong start to 2018, I'm starting to wonder if she was maybe just a year off.
Kizzire is a bit of a late-bloomer (he's already in his early 30s), but he has a fantastic swing, is a tremendous ball-striker and seems like he's starting to figure out what it takes to be in tournaments until the very end on the PGA Tour. I won't be surprised at all if he wins on Sunday.
3. Schniederjans-Stanley-Kizzire group #traj: The trajectory this group was getting on their shots was not fit for cable television. Stanley and Kizzire both have unique, outstanding swings and flights, but Schniederjans might be in a class of his own. I could watch all three play together every round for the rest of the year.
4. Young and fearless: Schniederjans (24), Tom Hoge (28), and Talor Gooch (26) have played a combined 128 PGA Tour events (75 of those from Hoge), and they're a combined 38 under so far in Honolulu. It's not exactly breaking news that the younger players on the PGA Tour aren't fearful of anything on the course, but it's a stark reminder in a week when Jordan Spieth is being outplayed by three guys who have grinded on the Web.com Tour in the last few years. Obviously anything can happen in any given week, but to me these names contending is one more piece of evidence that the PGA Tour has never been quite this good.
5. Let's pick a winner: It could legitimately be anybody in the top 10 right now, but I'm feeling a Kyle Stanley 65 for the victory. He's only made three bogeys all week and is putting out of his mind (top five in strokes gained putting). If he hits it on Sunday like he normally does, then he'll be right in it at the end.
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