The Upshot: Round 3, Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Round 3 recapWebb Simpson shares his 14-under lead with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.January 05, 2014
By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth is tied for the 54-hole lead with defending champion Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
In case you're wondering, Spieth would be the youngest to ever win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He'd break the record of Tiger Woods, who was 21 years, 0 months and 13 days when he won in 1997.
It would also be Spieth's second win in just 25 professional starts on the PGA TOUR. He's entering the final round with at least a share of the lead for the first time in his career.
HEAVY HEART: The fact that this week's tournament is in Hawaii might be the only reason co-leader Webb Simpson is sticking around.
His usual caddie, Paul Tesori, had planned to skip this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions for months to be home for the birth of his son. He didn't plan to be in the NICU of a Jacksonville, Fla., hospital watching newborn Isaiah fight to survive.
"My heart is pretty heavy right now," Simpson said after a nearly spotless Sunday 68. "I think that if I wasn't 12 hours from where he is, I would have considered pulling out and going to see him."
While Simpson didn't know the full details of what was causing the issue, he explained that Isaiah had a seizure shortly after birth and that he was fighting an "infection or virus in his brain."
Replacing Tesori this week is Ted Scott, longtime caddie of Bubba Watson and one of Tesori's closest friends. Scott had written the name "ISAIAH" on the brim of his hat to let Tesori and wife Michelle know that he was thinking of them.
"You always like to have some reason to fight, right?" an emotional Scott said about the thought of Simpson winning this week. "If that's something that can cheer him up in this moment, he deserves it."
Said Simpson: "Paul needs something good to watch there in the hospital."
Kapalua's Plantation Course can be distracting enough without any off-the-course issues on your mind. For Simpson to grab a share of the lead on a day where he was thinking of Tesori on "every hole" is nothing short of incredible.
"When you have a close friend going through something that, you want to at least be near him, give him a hug," Simpson said. "But he would want me to stay and play and try to win."
MEET THE NEW BOSS: So, Ted Scott, what's the biggest difference between caddying for Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson?
"This is a little more normal for me," Scott said. "The distance that Webb hits it I can relate to. You forget how far Bubba can hit a ball when he wants to."
NOT SO FAST: If you're concerned about Zach Johnson's third-round 74, which leaves him two off the lead, consider this: Seven of Johnson's 10 PGA TOUR wins have been come-from-behind. In fact, this week was only the second time he's ever held the outright lead after 36 holes.
" I feel good," Zach said after his round. " I feel good about my game and I feel good about the way I'm going about the day and the way Damon and I are attacking it."
BACK TO BACK: Just a piece of advice: If you ever win at Kapalua, make sure you keep coming back.
Defending champ Dustin Johnson is tied for the 54-hole lead and that's not a rarity. He's aiming to become the third back-to-back winner since 2004. (Stuart Appleby won three in a row from 2004 to 2006) and Geoff Ogilvy won in 2009 and 2010.)
DON'T FORGET TO WARM UP: Sometimes it just takes a little while to knock off the rust. Brian Gay can attest.
After his putting was "horrific" in Rounds 1 and 2, Brian Gay found something Sunday on Kapalua's bermudagrass greens, using just 26 putts (just 11 on the front nine) to turn in the low round of the week, an 8-under 65.
After missing an inordinate amount of putts over the first 36 holes, Brian Gay spent 30 minutes on the putting green Saturday night and finally something clicked.
"I'm just comfortable on bermuda and I guess I see it better, feel it better," he said.
In a round where he played his first eight holes in 7 under (including an eagle at No. 5), Gay had only one regret.
"After I hit that putt on nine, I thought, 'Shoot, why are you leaving that short? You could have shot 28!'"
MONDAY'S GAMEPLAN: Co-leaders Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth tee off at 11 a.m. local time (4 p.m. ET).
Golf Channel has coverage from 4-8 p.m. ET and SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio will broadcast live from 3-8 p.m. ET
PHOTO GALLERY: View images from the third round