Dave Tindall

The Roundup

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The Roundup: Kelly has company

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Recap of the day

Early starters: Way before the final group had made the turn, Bubba Watson came in with 5-under-par 65 to post the clubhouse lead of 11-under. It vaulted him over 21 spots to tied second at the time. Bronson Burgoon matched Bubba’s 65 to slot in at 10-under while there was also an earlier 5-under lap from J.T. Poston (-8).


Late starters: It looked as if Kelly Kraft was building a big lead for Sunday’s finale but the pressure of trying to win for the first time hit him late. While others picked up shots over The Old White’s closing holes, Kraft dropped a shot 16, had to settle for par at 17, an obvious birdie chance, and swallowed a walk-off bogey at 18 to see his lead eaten up. The 69 left him tied with Harold Varner III at 14-under while defending champion Xander Schauffele and Kevin Na (both carded 65s) ended the day just one back. Kraft’s late wobbles gave renewed hope to plenty of others too and the top 17 players are now separated by just five shots.


Leaderboard: -14 Kelly Kraft, Harold Varner III, -13 Xander Schauffele, Kevin Na, -12 Sam Saunders, -11 Bubba Watson, Joel Dahmen, Anirban Lahiri.


Notables: -10 Ryan Moore, -9 Tony Finau, -6 Webb Simpson, -5 Phil Mickelson, -4 Russell Henley.


Revised outright betting: 10/3 Schauffele, 4/1 Varner, 5/1 Kraft, Na, 15/2 Watson, 16/1 Saunders.


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Sunday weather forecast


Sunny, temps in the high 70s, very little wind. It’s all set fair for a Sunday shootout.



Leaders at 54 holes


Kelly Kraft (69, 196) – A performance in three parts. Nine opening pars, a hot start to the back nine (birdies at 10, 11 and 12) and a sting in the tail with bogeys at 16 and 18, just his third and fourth of the week. The difference? His putter. Minus SGP today after 3.657 and 3.007 in first two rounds.


Harold Varner III (66, 196) – Matched Kraft’s full set of pars on the front nine but kicked on after the turn with birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 17. Bogey free, 16 GIR, dreams of a first win backed up by some strong stats.


Xander Schauffele (65, 197) – Joint-low round of the day started with three front-nine circles. Gave his lap a late thunderclap moment with holed bunker shot for eagle at 17. DC is 4th in SG: Approach and 7th in SG: Putting so far.


Kevin Na (65, 197) – Played the two back-nine par 5s in 3-under after eagle conversion from 27ft at 12 and 23ft birdie at 17. Currently 5th in both SG: Approach and Scrambling this week. Time to end drought?



Fate of the favorites


Tony Finau (67, 201) – Full marks for scoring consistency after a third straight round of 67. This one mirrored his opener; six birdies and three bogeys. Negative SG: Putting for the first time this week however.


Bubba Watson (65, 199) – Struck it much better, gaining over five strokes tee-to-green, but left some putts in the jaws. In position to strike and he’s getting lower each day after starting 68-66.


Phil Mickelson (70, 205) – Not really at it today. Four birdies, four bogeys, putter cold. Ten million reasons why he was distracted?


Webb Simpson (76, 204) – Where did it all go wrong? Fifteen shots higher than his opening 61. Hit 17 GIR on day one but just nine today. Lost nearly five strokes with the putter. Not a good recipe.





Harold Varner III (66, 196) – “Super pleased. I hung in there on the front nine, a lot of pars, and just got it going on the back, and now I've got an opportunity to win a golf tournament. I'm going to have a hard time sleeping, which will be great. You should. You should be excited about this.”


Kevin Na (65, 197) – “Golf course is getting a lot more difficult. The greens are getting firm and crusty, and they're getting quick, too. You know what, I think a few under means something compared to the first two days, and I think I'm in a good position to maybe go low tomorrow and give it a shot. I've been striking the ball pretty well, and the putter has been working this week.”


Xander Schauffele (65, 197) – “It would mean a lot (to defend). It would feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Some of the other guys in my class have been able to repeat, and I'd love to join them. I've been in this spot. I've never led. So I'm used to coming from behind. Just do the same thing I've been doing really. I hit a small bag of balls right now, eat dinner, wake up, eat breakfast. Everything's going to be the same, and hopefully it will work.”


Bubba Watson (65, 199) – " I'm hitting the ball good. I know that I've come back from six shots a couple times in my career. I know I'm going to have to have a low one tomorrow. So that's the beauty of it that I did it a couple weeks ago, so there's always that chance. I made the cut, so there is a chance to win still, so that's the good thing. The Greenbrier has been so good to me, the fans and everything, so it would be nice to win. I'll call myself a local boy. It would be good to have the trophy stay here.”


Phil Mickelson (70, 205) – "I didn't play great today, to be honest, but I hit a lot of good shots, but I didn't score great. I'm getting better as the week goes on, and I'm building some momentum for my two-week stretch over in the U.K., and I'm looking forward to getting over there. But I'd like to finish it off with a good round tomorrow.”



Road to victory at The Old White TPC


2017 Xander Schauffele – R1: 3rd, R2: 7th, R3: 3rd 

2015 Danny Lee – R1: 2nd, R2: 3rd, R3: 5th 

2014 Angel Cabrera – R1: 31st, R2: 13th, R3: 2nd 

2013 Jonas Blixt – R1: 9th, R2: 7th, R3: 3rd 

2012 Ted Potter, Jr./strong> – R1: 41st, R2: 23rd, R3: 6th 


Notes: All seven champions were top ten after 54 holes while the last five were all inside the top six with a lap to go.



Fate of the third-round leaders at The Old White TPC - where did they finish?


2017 Sebastian Munoz – 3rd

2015 Bryce Molder – 6th, Jason Bohn – 13th, Sean O’Hair – 13th, Sung Joon Park – 37th   

2014 Billy Hurley III – 4th 

2013 Johnson Wagner – 2nd 

2012 Webb Simpson - 7th 


Notes: Beware Kelly Kraft and Harold Varner III! No 54-hole leader has held on to win. Overall, 10 players have had a piece of the third-round lead in this event, with four finishing outside the top 12. The biggest 54-hole lead was Jeff Overton’s three-shot advantage in 2010; he went on to finish runner-up.



Focus on – Bubba Watson


When Bubba won the prestigious Genesis Open at Riviera for the third time earlier this year, he broke down in tears. “My goal was always to get to 10 wins and this got me to my 10th win.” With the mountain climbed, perhaps the left-hander could have been forgiven for switching off for the season before re-evaluating. Except, three starts after that he bagged his 11th ‘W’ by landing the WGC Match Play. And five starts later, he took his tally to 12 at the Travelers Championship. Are we now looking at No. 13? Twice he’s come from six back to win the Travelers while the two-time Masters winner was four in arrears after 54 before winning at Riviera in 2014. After Kraft’s late slip, he starts Sunday just three off the pace. A fourth win of the campaign is within touching distance.



Focus on – Kevin Na


Charles Howell is the poster boy for banking millions in earnings without winning (to be fair, CHIII has tasted victory twice although the last was 2007). But Kevin Na runs him close for that accolade with an asterisk. For the record, Na has won once in 369 starts and is 42nd on the Career Money List with $25,969,596. Fantasy managers may get frustrated but he’s done them plenty of favors over the years with 64 top 10s, nine second places and eight thirds. There’s no obvious reason why he wins for the first time since 2011 but, as the saying goes, if you put yourself in position enough times…

Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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