A fun day of golf on a terrific golf course sets the stage for what should be a fantastic final round on Sunday at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Though the round was suspended with the final two pairings on the 18th hole (it will be concluded on Sunday morning before Round 4 starts) the tournament took shape on Saturday as several nice storylines emerged on Moving Day.
Chief among them will be Chesson Hadley (-14) taking a four-stroke lead to the final 19 holes (Hadley actually hit his tee shot on No. 18 on Saturday before the horn blew). We'll take a look at his round, tournament and what's in store over the next 24 hours for the former PGA Tour winner as he tries to take down a handful of the best players in the world.
1. Chesson Hadley (-14): The story of the day on Sunday is Hadley taking on the field and trying to notch the second win of his career. His recent numbers – nine missed cuts in his last 11 starts – make it seem like a win over the No. 1 player in the world (as well as the rest of the top of this field) would be impossible, but that's part of what makes pro golf great. If it starts to slip, watch for it to happen on the greens where Hadley is leading the field in putting through three rounds. It likely will not go quickly but rather become a slow bleed where he makes four bogeys in seven holes or something like that. Or he may run away and hide. Regardless, it's the preeminent thing to keep an eye on during the final day.
2. Harris English (-10): English had the second-best round of the day going on Saturday before play was called, mostly due to a hot putter. However, he's still been flushing it all week (top 15 from tee to green) and will not be scared of leading late Sunday. His ball flight plays so well on this golf course (and should have probably resulted in more strong finishes at major championships on similar courses. I'm a little concerned that his great score is being buoyed by his putter, and Sunday's round should be telling early. English has had a bizarre year. He won the Tournament of Champions but does not have a single top 10 anywhere since then. A win on Sunday would not be a shocker because the game and pedigree are great, but it would be surprising
T3. Garrick Higgo, Dustin Johnson* (-8): After scuffling in the middle of his round with a series of, uh, over-cutting shots (if we're being kind), D.J. made up a little ground by playing his last three holes (he's also on No. 18) in 1 under. His strokes-gained numbers tell the story of Saturday's round though. He was nearly last in the field in iron play on Saturday, but he's been solid from tee to green throughout the week. It's strange to say this about the No. 1 player in the world, but I'm not sure I totally trust what I'm getting from him Sunday, though I'm encouraged (so far) about what he could do at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines next week.
T5. Bo Van Pelt, Tyrrell Hatton (-7): Hatton made three (!) eagles on Saturday – including two on consecutive holes on the back nine (both par 4s) – to run his way up the leaderboard in Round 3. Hatton is currently leading the field from tee to green but is nearly last in putting. When it comes to a really good player like Hatton, that could mean something special on Sunday. If you're looking for a horse from behind, Hatton is your guy.
T7. Luke Donald, Danny Lee, Jhonattan Vegas, Doc Redman, Seamus Power, Pat Perez (-6): The former No. 1 player in the world (Donald) has just one top 10 on the PGA Tour since 2017 – he finished T9 at the 2019 Valspar Championship – but he's staring at another one this week at Congaree, and he's doing it the way he's always done it, with iron play and a hot putter. Donald shot a 67 on Saturday that was 3.5 strokes better than the field average, and only Bo Van Pelt (this really is a throwback to 2011!) shot a lower score than him. I'm not sure he can take it as deep as he'll need to tomorrow, but his recent mini-surge (he also finished top 15 at the AT&T Byron Nelson) has been a nice story.
T7. Tain Lee (-6): The story of the entire week thus far, Lee qualified Monday into this tournament and led halfway through Saturday's third round. His previous best finish as a professional came at the 2014 Belgian Challenge Open, where he finished T6. He fell apart late with a bogey-bogey-double stretch on the back nine, but there is still a ton for him to play for on Sunday as a top-10 finish will get him into the Travelers Championship the week after the U.S. Open. Easy story to root for outside of the leaders on Sunday afternoon.
Tain Lee file:— Monday Q Info (@acaseofthegolf1) June 12, 2021
College: Claremont McKenna
Turned pro: 2012
Mackenzie: 19 of 33 cuts 4 top-10s
KFT: 7 of 29 cuts
European Tour: 4 of 4
Challenge Tour: 6 of 18
Injuries: A lot
Miles Driven: 979,437
Nice Guy factor: 10 out of 10
PGA TOUR Wins: I'll let you know tomorrow