Daily Wrap-up: Travelers Championship, Round 3June 22, 2013
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CROMWELL, Conn. -- Charley Hoffman lost his chance at winning last year's Travelers Championship on the 71st hole.
His tee shot on the difficult par-4 17th at TPC River Highlands found the pond that runs along the fairway and he finished second, missing out on his third PGA TOUR win.
This year, Hoffman is in a three-way tie for the lead heading into Sunday's final round and he expects a different outcome.
"Obviously if I get on 17 tee (in the lead), I'd be lying to say I'm not going to think about that tee shot," Hoffman said Saturday after his 4-under 66 tied him with Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet at 10-under 200.
"But I'm a much more mature, better player than I was a year ago and don't feel uncomfortable on that tee shot."
Watson, who led by two shots when he began the third round and by four shots midway through it, made three bogeys in his last six holes to help create the logjam. DeLaet tied for the low round of the day with a 65.
Chris Stroud and Nick O'Hern are one shot back of the leaders at 9 under, while Ken Duke's 65 put him alone in sixth place.
Justin Rose, less than a week after his U.S. Open victory, is 7 under and in a tie for seventh after a second straight 68.
After shooting a 61 in the opening round, Hoffman struggled and shot 73 on Friday. He bounced back with a 66 Saturday that included five birdies.
"I got off to a pretty quick start and then birdied 10, thought I was going to get going again," Hoffman said. "And then a little three-putt bogey on 12 sort of slowed things down."
Watson made three birdies in his first six holes Saturday and was ahead by four shots after the third. But bogeys on Nos. 13, 15 and 17 brought the 2011 Masters champion back to the field.
Watson, who won the 2010 Travelers, is trying to become the seventh man to win the event at least twice. Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson have also done it.
"I hit some shots today that were really good, quality shots," said Watson, who shot an even-par 70. "I got a couple bad breaks here and there, but that's golf. At the end of the day I still have a chance on Sunday and that's what we're always looking for."
DeLaet may be playing this week in New England but many of his thoughts are about his native Canada. The heavy rain and flooding in Alberta forced PGA TOUR Canada to cancel its event this week, just one of the many issues the area is facing.
The 2009 Canadian Tour player of the year has pledged to donate $1,000 for every birdie he makes this weekend and $2,500 for every eagle to help the relief efforts.
"It's a pretty small part, what we're doing, but anything helps," said DeLaet, a native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan. "There's a lot of help from everyone all across Canada."
DeLaet first made it to 10 under after beginning his back nine with four straight birdies. A bogey at the difficult par-3 16th put a slight damper on his round, but DeLaet finished strong by delicately rolling in a downhill putt from the fringe on the 18th hole.
"I did play well pretty much all day. I had a lot of good birdie chances on the front nine, just couldn't really seem to find the hole," DeLaet said. "Julien (Trudeau), my caddie, just told me to stay patient."
Watson began the day with a two-shot lead and immediately began to extend it. After saving par on the first hole with a sliding, 7-foot putt, Watson made birdie at No. 2 by hitting a wedge some 2 feet from the hole. He followed that by draining a 30-foot putt from the front edge on No. 3 for a second straight birdie.
Another birdie at the par-5 sixth gave Watson a four-shot lead and he seemed ready to lap the field. Watson also made relatively lengthy par-saving putts on Nos. 7 and 10.
The smallest cracks in Watson's armor appeared at the par-5 13th, where his drive faded too far left and ended up in a fairway bunker.
He was still short of the green after three shots and eventually made bogey, his first of the day and first in his last 30 holes.
He made another bogey at the easiest hole at TPC River Highlands, the 296-yard, par-4 15th. His drive left him just 50 feet from the hole but his putt through the fringe didn't make it up the steep hill in front of the green. A chip and two putts followed, moving Watson back to 11 under.
Watson's final bogey came on the 17th and was the result of a tee shot pushed left into a fairway bunker.
The lack of rain recently combined with an increase in the wind late Saturday made TPC River Highlands, one of the shortest courses on TOUR, increasingly difficult for the players.
"I think we've never seen the golf course like this, as firm as it is and as firm as some of the greens are," Watson said. "It's hard to get to certain points, so a lot of people probably played it safe."
TPC River Highlands: Round 3 Easiest hole Toughest hole
The par-4 second hole was the easiest with a Saturday scoring average of 3.831.
Eagles: 0 | Birdies: 20 | Pars: 57 | Bogeys: 6 | Others: 0
The par-3 16th was the toughest hole with a Saturday scoring average of 3.301.
Eagles: 0 | Birdies: 6 | Pars: 53 | Bogeys: 20 | Others: 4
About the leaders: Graham DeLaet, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson • This week’s ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS on PGA TOUR Canada was canceled due to heavy rains and flooding. Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet announced that he will donate $1,000 for each birdie and $2,500 for each eagle he makes this weekend at TPC River Highlands. DeLaet made six birdies in round three en route to his second 5-under 65 of the week (R1). Four of those birdies came consecutively on hole Nos. 10-13. PGA TOUR Canada will match DeLaet dollar for dollar.
• Making his 17th start of the season, and the 72nd of his career, DeLaet remains in search of his first PGA TOUR win. For each of his three missed cuts this season, he has a top-10 finish. In his last four starts, he has finished no worse than T26 (THE PLAYERS). • DeLaet has never previously held a lead/co-lead after the third round of a PGA TOUR event. • Thanks to four top-10s in 15 starts this season, Charley Hoffman comes into this week No. 48 in the FedExCup standings with 11 events remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs. • Hoffman, who played his last two holes at TPC River Highlands last year in 3-over, finished T2 with Bubba Watson. Hoffman’s struggles down the stretch have been somewhat prevalent this year in his final-round scores. At the Northern Trust Open, he closed with a 4-over 75. At the Tampa Bay Championship and RBC Heritage, he posted a pair of final-round, 6-over 77s, and in his last two starts before this week, he finished 81, 79 at the Memorial and U.S. Open, respectively. • Hoffman has previously held a lead/co-lead after 54 holes just once. At this year’s RBC Heritage, he held the third-round lead before finishing T6. • Bubba Watson, the 2010 Travelers Championship winner, is looking for his second top-10 finish (in stroke-play events) this season. In the season’s first event, he finished T4 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. • Watson has previously held the lead/co-lead after 54 holes five times. The only one he converted for victory was the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.