By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- There’s only a slight breeze at Harbour Town today, unlike the gusts of 15-20 mph that prevailed on Saturday. If the wind remains minimal, conditions could be ideal for an exciting shootout in the final round of The Heritage.
There are 15 players bunched within five shots of leader Luke Donald, including defending champion Jim Furyk, who is one shot behind at 10 under.
“You can’t play protective golf, you have to go out there and try to win it, make some birdies and not try to hold on to that lead,” Donald said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be windy again, but the course is only getting harder and faster.”
“A good round by one of those people could separate themselves from the field,” Furyk said.
Donald has entered the final round with a lead on six occasions, with his only win coming at the 2006 Honda Classic. (He also led after 54 holes at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic and was declared the winner when the final round was cancelled due to bad weather.) Donald has four top-10s in his last five starts and will become the No. 1 ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking with a victory. Donald has history in his favor; the third-round leader has gone on to win nine of 16 events this year on the PGA TOUR.
Furyk won last year’s tournament at 13 under. He’s trying to become the 12 th champion to post all four rounds in the 60s. He’s shown that Furyk consistency all week, hitting 83.3 percent of fairways and 70.4 percent of greens in regulation, which both rank among the top five in the field. And Furyk has gone 254 holes at Harbour Town without a three-putt.
The duo at 9-under includes Brendon de Jonge and Scott Verplank. De Jonge must find a way to back up his 66 from Saturday; he’s searching for his first TOUR win. Verplank has good history at Harbour Town, with three top-10s.
Others who are expected to get involved in the action on Sunday include: Ricky Barnes and Tommy Gainey, who have shot identical rounds of 71-67-67 and are three shots behind Donald; Jason Day, whose mid-round stumble dropped him to 8-under; Pat Perez, who has shot 67 and 68 on consecutive days; and veteran Chris Couch, looking for his first win since 2006, and Jason Dufner, seeking his first TOUR win, both at 7-under.