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The ever-stoic Chris Kirk heads into the final round of The Sentry with the solo lead at 21 under over a star-studded chasing pack. Beginning his day with an early bogey, the 38-year-old battled back over his final 14 holes with eight birdies against no other dropped shots to sign for a 7-under 66. His final par breaker of the round came on the par-5 finisher and was enough to pull him ahead of Akshay Bhatia at 20 under.

"I kind of got back to doing my thing thankfully, but it was a difficult opening stretch," said Kirk. "That second hole, [the wind] was blowing so hard left to right and 3 and 4 were playing so long into the wind, kind of more like we saw on practice days. The first few holes were tough and then I was able to save a few pars there and get settled in after that."

Kirk has held the 54-hole lead six times in his PGA Tour career and converted three of those instances into trophies. If he is to do so again, it will be hard-earned as Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele lurk a couple shots back at 19 under. Managing the wind effectively like Kirk, Schauffele and Spieth made the most of their Moving Days to position themselves for their second Sentry titles.

The most recent champion in the field, Harris English, finds himself in the mix as well after a blistering beginning to his third round that saw him shoot 7 under on his front side (the back nine at Kapalua). English resides at 18 under alongside world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

Entering the weekend with the solo lead, Scheffler struggled to get things going Saturday. Turning in a mundane even par, Scheffler appeared to find his footing with a pair of early birdies on his back side. A 3-putt on the par-5 18th squashed his chances of joining Spieth in the penultimate pairing; he will instead start the final round three adrift at 18 under.

The leader

1. Chris Kirk (-21): The Sentry is often defined by birdies, but par saves can be crucial just as one was for Kirk on Saturday. Arriving at the very gettable par-5 15th, the smooth-swinging right hander lost his ball in the hazard right off the tee. Needing to take a drop and scrambling to make par, Kirk converted from just off the green to avoid a dropped shot. If he goes onto win the tournament, Kirk may look back at this hole as a key contributing factor.

"Definitely relief," Kirk said referring to his par save. "I didn't hit that awful of a drive, I just didn't adjust for the strength of wind as much as I needed to, compared to the line I was taking the last few days. I only hit it barely right, but with that wind blowing so hard over the left it just took it over there. But, yeah, to make that one after a nice run of birdies before that definitely kept the momentum going."

Other contenders

2. Akshay Bhatia (-20)
T3. Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele,  Byeong Hun An(-19)
T6. Scottie Scheffler, Harris English, Jason Day, Sahith Theegala (-18)
T10. Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, J.T. Poston, Collin Morikawa (-17)

There are three rather large elephants on the first page of the leaderboard. Let's begin with Scheffler, who experienced the most turbulent day of those in contention. He remained steady from tee to green, but the Texan let some old habits on the greens creep back into his game. After making a birdie from distance on No. 10, Scheffler lost roughly two strokes on the greens over his final eight holes. 

While Scheffler struggled, Spieth and Schauffele surged. Both prior champions of this tournament, the two went around Kapalua with ease. Schauffele signed for the second-lowest round of the day with an 8-under 65 that began with a bogey on No. 1. Despite some stressful moments, Spieth was one of four players with a bogey-free round on Saturday. He has now gone 51 holes without a dropped shot and looks primed to shoot a really low score, especially if he cleans up some short misses like the one below.

Birdies grounded on Moving Day

Unlike the weather, the Plantation Course was not all sunshine and rainbows for players on Saturday. Having their way with the golf course the first two days, players were met with windy conditions and slicker putting surfaces after the grounds crew cut the greens Friday night. As a result, the par 73 played just about three strokes more difficult compared to Friday. All 59 players signed for an under-par round in Round 2 in comparison to 13 players shooting over-par rounds in Round 3 including a 77 from Ludvig Åberg.

  • Round 1: -4.17
  • Round 2: -5.53
  • Round 3: -2.51

"Some of those holes were kind of straight into the fan. 3 and 4, kind of wind off your back," said Schauffele. "If you're not feeling dangerous with your swing, it may feel a little bit, you know, dangerous to hit a shot. Felt like I handled it okay and was able to keep the ball in play and sort of move on from there."

2024 Sentry updated odds and picks

  • Chris Kirk: +360
  • Xander Schauffele: 5-1
  • Scottie Scheffler: 13/2
  • Jordan Spieth: 13/2
  • Akshay Bhatia: 9-1
  • Byeong Hun An: 11-1
  • Sahith Theegala: 20-1
  • Jason Day: 20-1
  • Patrick Cantlay: 25-1

The winner of this tournament will have holed plenty of putts at the end of it, and despite some improvement it does make it difficult to trust Scheffler. His price is appetizing but I will side with Schauffele, who looked to have figured things out on Saturday. Ranking second in strokes gained approach and among the best putters in the world, Schauffele should have enough in tow to match his Round 3 effort on the final day.