Blair backed by fatherly guidance
The 25-year-old will rely on personal experience and veteran support in pursuit of his first TOUR win
January 16, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Zac Blair has not dropped a shot in his last 40 holes at Waialae Country Club. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HONOLULU -- A few observations following the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Brandt Snedeker and Zac Blair share the lead at 16 under at Waialae Country Club. For more on all of Saturday's action, check out the Daily Wrap-Up.
1. BLAIR GOING FOR FIRST WIN: Zac Blair will take a share of the lead to the final round for the first time in his career. Still, the 25-year-old second year PGA TOUR player has a few things going for him.
First, he’s a veteran of a handful of tours around the world and a year ago finished sixth at Waialae CC. Blair’s experience here goes even deeper, though, as he had played the course a number of times while in college at BYU.
Second, his dad, James, had a brief stint as a pro, making 22 starts on the PGA TOUR (though he only made five cuts) and his caddie, Andy Martinez is a veteran, having been on a number of bags, including Tom Lehman’s.
“I learned everything from my dad,” Blair said. “He's been my only coach my whole life. It's definitely great to have somebody like that with you all the time or a phone call away. He's still a great player, and I still like to play with him, and I definitely keep learning from him.”
Age is just a number, 1 more day in paradise
2. SNEDEKER NEAR FLAWLESS: In Brandt Snedeker’s last five rounds he has made just two bogeys. Only one of them has come this week.
Saturday, Snedeker shot a bogey-free 66 to take a share of the lead going into the final round. He started to hit his stride, however, last weekend in Maui, where he went on to finish third. That form has carried over to Oahu, where even though he missed a number of birdie opportunities in the third round has a chance for his eighth career win and first since last February at Pebble Beach.
“I parred the two par-5s from the middle of the fairway, I missed a short birdie putt on 1, a short birdie putt on 17, and didn't really feel like I had good speed on my putts all day,” he said. “But besides that I hit the ball fantastic and gave myself a lot of opportunities. Do that again (Sunday), I should be in good shape.”
3. KISNER ROLLING: For the third time in his last four starts, Kevin Kisner will play in a Sunday final grouping, this time after a 66 on Saturday.
How important is that, compared to being in the second-to-last group?
“I think it's huge (Sunday) so you know what's going on,” he said. “You're not having to look at scoreboards.”
Lately, Kisner’s name has been on plenty of scoreboards. He has finished in the top 10 in each of his last three starts - two of those were a win and a runner-up.
“I'm super confident over the golf ball,” he said. “My putter did not feel great the first two days, but it felt great today. I found a little something on the putting green this morning, and hopefully I’ll carry that over (Sunday) and hoop a lot of putts.”
He certainly did Saturday - one-putting 11 holes including a stretch of seven in a row on the front nine.
QUOTE OF THE DAYThat's where you're supposed to be, right? I'm here to win. I start on Thursday with the idea of winning, and that's where I want to be (Sunday) going into it.
4. KUCHAR GOES ON BIRDIE BARRAGE: Matt Kuchar snuck into the weekend, making birdie on his final hole Friday to make the cut on the number. A day later, he made the most of the opportunity.
Kuchar rattled off six straight birdies to close out his round and 10 altogether on his way to shooting 62 to climb into a tie for sixth, just five shots off the lead.
The closing barrage began with a 42-footer on the par-3 fourth, and he followed with birdies from 14, 35, 17, 18 and 25 feet.
5. JAPAN’S RISING STAR? Daisuke Kataoka, a 27-year-old from Japan, is playing in the U.S. for the first time this week. So far he has handled it better than expected, shooting a 64 Saturday to enter the final round 11 under and within striking distance of the lead.
“I was nervous coming in,” said Kataoka, who got in the tournament on a sponsor exemption. “I never thought I would be in this position going into Sunday.”
He was certainly playing well enough before arriving in Hawaii, finishing in the top 20 in each of his last four starts late last year on the Japan Tour, which included a tie for second at the Mynavi ABC Championship in early December.
Ultimately, Kataoka, who took up the game as a child after his father took him to a driving range in Japan and was later inspired by a 2002 World Cup win by Toshimitsu Izawa and Shigeki Maruyama, wants to play on the PGA TOUR full time. This week could go a long way in showing he can.
So was his second shot on the 477-yard par-4 13th. Using a 3-wood from 230 yards, Kataoka stuffed his approach to 2 feet to set up an easy birdie, one of seven on the day.
Not lost on him either were some of the amenities that go with playing in a TOUR event, including simple things like water on every hole and food every few holes.
“That’s something that surprised me,” he said, smiling.
CALL OF THE DAY
Doug Bell calls Si Woo Kim's closing eagle on No. 18 in the third round of the 2016 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Free play-by-play coverage of the final round streams from 6-11 p.m. ET Sunday on PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Steve Stricker's slam dunk eagle is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Kuchar birdied his final six holes today for a 62. He made putts from: • 30 ft • 6 ft • 7 ft • 15 ft • 5 ft • 4 ft pic.twitter.com/2Wdaz7MrCI— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 17, 2016