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ORLANDO, Fla. – A wind-aided Bay Hill punched players in the mouth Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Tyrrell Hatton leads by two shots at 6 under. Here’s what you need to know from Round 3 at Bay Hill:
Leaderboard: Tyrrell Hatton (-6), Marc Leishman (-4), Rory McIlroy (-4), Danny Lee (-3), Sungjae Im (-3), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-3), Harris English (-3)
How it happened: Close to 20 mph sustained winds and nearly 30 mph gusts hammered players throughout the round, as scores in the mid-70 felt like small victories. Only one player broke par, and the par-4 18th hole, the toughest on the course on a day when the scoring average was 75.91, produced more than its fair share of parting shots. Lee was tied for the lead before doubling the last. McIlroy would’ve been solo second if not for his closing bogey. Sung Kang tripled the 18th to drop to 1 under overall. But Hatton, the 36-hole co-leader with Kang, was one of just three players to birdie the finishing hole, draining a 30-footer to shoot a hard-earned, 1-over 73 and take a two-shot lead.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 7, 2020
What it means: For the second straight week, the perfect storm of tough course conditions and high winds has kept low scoring at bay. Im, who is two shots back at Bay Hill, won last week’s Honda Classic at just 6 under. A week later, big numbers again are commonplace. Eight triple bogeys or worse were made Saturday, including Sam Burns’ quad at the par-4 13th and Ryan Moore’s quintuple bogey at the par-3 17th. Expect a similar grind-it-out battle Sunday at Arnie’s Place, where past API champs McIlroy and Leishman will be among the contenders and Hatton will be looking for PGA Tour victory No. 1. Meanwhile, the feel-good story of the tournament may be Bezuidenhout, who ingested rat poison as a kid and has since battled a severe stutter and other adverse affects from that accident. The 25-year-old South African is part of the group at 3 under.
Round of the day: Max Homa three-putted from 4 feet at the last to card a closing double bogey and cap a 2-under 70. That was good enough for the round of the day and only round under par, as Homa, teeing off in the first twosome of the morning, jumped nearly 50 spots on the leaderboard.
Best of the rest: Bryson DeChambeau birdied three of his final five holes and put an exclamation point on his third-round 72 by sticking his approach to 6 feet at No. 18 and making the putt. DeChambeau was among just a handful of players to shoot even par, a group that also included Leishman, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele and K.H. Lee, who carded his 72 alongside Brooks Koepka. Speaking of the world No. 3…
Biggest disappointment: Options were aplenty here, but Brooks Koepka’s 9-over 81 was arguably the most underwhelming. Not only did Koepka turn in the worst score of his PGA Tour career, but he also recorded another poor outing with the Players on tap next week and the Masters fast approaching.
Shot of the day: Lee yanked his second shot at the par-5 12th hole into some landscaping and had to take an unplayable. He then holed this shot for an unlikely birdie:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 7, 2020
Quote of the day: “Today was the hardest I’ve ever seen a golf course play. Hats off to anyone that shoots under par.” – Harry Higgs, who shot 76.