Chesson Hadley in driver’s seat at Palmetto Championship at Congaree
Has four-shot lead with one hole remaining in rain-suspended third round
June 12, 2021
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- Hadley looks to capitalize on his four-shot lead heading in to Sunday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
RIDGELAND, S.C. – Chesson Hadley had missed 10 of his last 12 cuts coming into this week. He was 192nd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, 151st in the FedExCup, 320th in the world.
Only his putting, in which he ranked 14th on TOUR, seemed to be going right. The best thing he’d done was take some time away from the game to preserve his sanity.
And yet it will be Hadley, and not his third-round playing partner, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who will go into Sunday with the best chance to win the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
Hadley, the snapping, lanky 33-year-old from Georgia Tech, was 3 under on the day and 14 under total when the horn sounded for a weather delay after his tee shot at the 18th hole.
“No, I did not see this coming,” he said earlier this week.
Harris English, 4 under on the day, was his closest pursuer, four shots back.
Johnson was 1 over on the day and 8 under total, tied with South African Garrick Higgo (68).
The third round was called for the day at 8 p.m. ET with four players on the course. It will resume at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, with fourth round tee times from 8:05 a.m. - 1:50 p.m. ET off the first tee.
English, who bogeyed the 17th hole, had yet to putt out on 18 when the horn blew. The winner of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, he had cooled off some partly due to a back injury he suffered at THE PLAYERS Championship in March.
“I never really had any back injuries before I had to pull out of THE PLAYERS, and I haven't been 100 percent since then,” he said earlier this week. “It's a long year. I know, 31 years old, I'm bound to have a couple injuries. But it's been close. … I feel like it's been trending.”
Higgo, a 22-year-old lefty from Johannesburg who could make the 2022 International Presidents Cup Team, won two of his last three starts on the European Tour, but has been mostly overlooked this week.
Instead, most of the attention has been on native son Johnson. Earlier this week, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
Alas, the golf hasn’t come easy lately for the 24-time PGA TOUR winner. After missing the cut in two of his last four starts, including the PGA Championship at nearby Kiawah Island, and failing to register a top-10 finish since February, he got away from the game to do some fishing and clear his head. He was struggling on the greens, he said, and while things were looking up for a while at Congaree, he was back in negative numbers in Strokes Gained: Putting on Saturday.
Still, a six-shot deficit is hardly insurmountable, and Johnson surely would love to win in his home state of South Carolina for the first time in his career.
Tyrrell Hatton (67) and veteran Bo Van Pelt (66) are at 7 under, seven back.
Hadley, though, controls his destiny. If he doesn’t do anything crazy on 18 (he’s in the fairway) and shoots under par Sunday, the 2014 Puerto Rico Open champion, 2013-14 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, and four-time Korn Ferry Tour winner will be awfully hard to catch.