Jones, Haley II share 54-hole lead at Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank
June 27, 2020
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- June 27, 2020
- Kyle Jones fired a 67 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead with Paul Haley II for the second straight day. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
FARMINGTON, Utah – Paul Haley II and Kyle Jones posted matching third-round 4-under 67s to claim a share of the 54-hole lead at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank at 17-under 196. Ryan Ruffels, Dawie van der Walt, T.J. Vogel and Chandler Blanchet each sit one stroke back at 16-under 197 after three rounds at Oakridge Country Club.
A day after shooting a career-low 62, Haley began the third round with one birdie over his first six holes. The 32-year-old got things going with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to reach 16-under for the week.
After pars on Nos. 10-13, Haley tallied back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to reach 18-under for the tournament. He carded his only bogey of the day at the par-4 16th and closed with two pars to finish tied with Jones entering the final round.
“I played solid, I think I hit 13 fairways,” Haley said. “I think half of my putts were downhill left-to-righters and you just can’t be that aggressive. I hit it well and I’m pleased. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
The Georgia Tech alum is in search of his second Korn Ferry Tour title. In 2012, Haley won the inaugural Chile Classic en route to securing his PGA TOUR card. Despite his early success, Haley made only three cuts in his first season on TOUR and is still in search of a PGA TOUR return.
“The last couple of years it’s really kind of started to turn around,” Haley said of his game. “Being a little nicer to myself on the course and having a good attitude is kind of half the battle. I’ve been trying really hard to keep the faith.”
Haley, who resides in Dallas, spent the last few months playing golf with PGA TOUR member and friend Scottie Scheffler. Last season, Scheffler won twice en route to earning his PGA TOUR card and Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year honors.
“I’ve known him (Scottie) forever,” Haley said. “He’s super talented and is going to be a force for a long time. When I play with him at home it’s a great measuring stick for where my game is. The way he carries himself and how confident he is rubs off on me.”
Jones, who began his round with a birdie at the first, dropped a shot after an uncharacteristic bogey at the par-5 second. He dropped another shot at the par-3 fourth to fall back to 12-under for the week.
“Today was definitely a struggle compared to the last couple of days,” Jones said. “It was just one of those days. It didn’t feel that bad but score wise, it just wasn’t happening.”
Despite the sluggish start, Jones tallied his second birdie of the day at the par-5 seventh. After pars on Nos. 8-12, Jones added his third birdie of the round at the par-4 13th. Needing a strong finish to gain momentum before Sunday, Jones delivered. The Baylor University product birdied his final three holes to reach 17-under for the week and gain a share of the 54-hole lead.
“It was important, fire and foremost, to put me back in position for tomorrow but also to give me some confidence,” Jones said of his closing stretch. “I was kind of feeling down a lot today. Mostly because I was hitting a lot of good shots and just wasn’t getting rewarded. That finish definitely helped me out a lot.”
Jones, who finished T11 at the 2018 Utah Championship, earned his PGA TOUR card after finishing the Regular Season 11th in The 25. During the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season, Jones recorded three top-25s but finished 187th in the FedExCup before returning to the Korn Ferry Tour. Jones has had several close calls in his career but is still in search of his first Korn Ferry Tour title.
“The more experience you have the more comfortable you feel but those nerves are always going to be there,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll just draw on experience and handle the nerves tomorrow.”
Ruffels, van der Walt, Vogel and Blanchet will enter the final round one stroke off the lead.
Ruffels erupted on Saturday with birdies on his opening seven holes. The streak matched the Korn Ferry Tour record for most consecutive birdies to start a round. The feat was last accomplish by Kyle Wilshire in the second round of the 2017 Utah Championship also contested at Oakridge Country Club.
Final-round tee times with run from approximately 7:50 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. MT with players teeing off No.1.