Saturday, October 31, 2015

CIMB Classic 2015 Round 3 Notes

photo: PelanconganKini
Weather: Hot and humid weather with temperatures reaching 91 degrees with winds shifting from the North to the West at 4-8 mph.

Due to wet conditions, preferred lies were used during the third round.

Third-Round Leaderboard 
Justin Thomas69-61-67 - 196 (-20)
Brendan Steele67-63-66 - 196 (-20)
Kevin Na67-66-64 - 196 (-19)
James Hahn70-65-64 - 199 (-17)
Hideki Matsuyama65-65-68 - 199 (-17)
Spencer Levin67-64-68 - 199 (-17)

Brendan Steele
Making his third start at the CIMB Classic, and second at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (T25/2014), Brendan Steele made six birdies in a bogey-free round and is tied for the lead with Justin Thomas through 54 holes.

His and Thomas’ 196 total through 54 holes is the lowest in tournament history.

Steele, who is not known for his length, is 9-under-par on the par-5s through 54 holes. Steele is in search of his second win on TOUR (2011 Valero Texas Open). This is the fourth time that Steele has led entering the final round at a PGA TOUR event, including his win at the Valero Texas Open. At the Open, Steele also held the 54-hole lead and fired a final-round 76 to finish T17.

Steele is coming off of a missed cut in last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Justin Thomas
A day after firing a course-record 61 in the second round of  his CIMB Classic debut, Justin Thomas finished birdie-birdie to grab a share of the lead with Brendan Steele.  His 20-under, 196 total ties Steele for the lowest in tournament history through 54 holes.

Thomas also entered the final round of the 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge presented by the Clinton Foundation in a tie for the lead and eventually finished seventh.

In the second round, Thomas’ bogey-free 61 set a new course record at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and matched the tournament record. The former University of Alabama All-American also set the 36-hole tournament record in relation to par with his 15-under-par score (2012-Robert Garrigus /14-under).

Thomas got his sophomore campaign off to a strong start with a T3 at the Open, a career-best showing on TOUR. The former Nicklaus Award winner closed with a 69 and narrowly missed a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finish one shot out of a playoff with Emiliano Grillo and Kevin Na.

As a TOUR rookie in 2015 Thomas, the last player to make the field, posted 10 birdies in the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship, the most in tournament history.

In 2014, Thomas earned his first professional victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship outside of Columbus, Ohio during the Tour Finals. Thomas headed into the weekend four back of the leaders, carded 72-70 and defeated Richard Sterne in a playoff for the title.

Kevin Na

Kevin Na fired an 8-under 64 to vault up the leaderboard in the third round, despite making a bogey on the par-4 13th hole, and is one shot back of the lead. Na, who is making his fourth start at the CIMB Classic, has top 10s in his last two starts in the event.

Na is coming off of two runner-up finishes in the first two events of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season, including a playoff-loss at the Open. Interestingly, Na entered the final round at the Open in a tie for second place, behind leader Brendan Steele. 

After missing the green short on No. 10 Na holed the pitch shot from the rough directly in the hole without it taking any bounces.

Na is looking for his second PGA TOUR victory, his first coming at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2011. 

In 2002, Na was named the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year on the back of his win at the Volvo Masters of Asia, played in Malaysia – it is his only career win on the Asian Tour.

Another runner-up finish would be the sixth for Na since the beginning of 2014.

Third Round Leader Stats
The eventual CIMB Classic winner has held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes every year, except 2012 when Nick Watney won the tournament entering the final round in a tie for seventh.

The largest 54-hole lead in tournament history was Ben Crane (2 strokes) in 2010, and he went on to win.

Miscellaneous Stats
In addition to 500 FedExCup points and a two-year PGA TOUR exemption, the CIMB Classic champion receives invitations to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a winners-only event in January, along with two major championships (Masters Tournament and PGA Championship) and THE PLAYERS. The player would also earn exemptions into six additional invitational events and a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.

2015 Northern Trust Open champion James Hahn matched Na and 2015 Memorial Tournament winner David Lingmerth with an 8-under 64, the low rounds of the day. Hahn is in a group of four players tied for fourth at 17-under that includes American lefty Brian Harman, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and American Spencer Levin.

Adam Scott, in his first appearance at the CIMB Classic, shot his second-straight 6-under 66 and is four shots off the lead. Scott has been using a conventional-length putter with a claw grip in anticipation of the anchoring ban that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. 

Anirban Lahiri, who won at KLGCC earlier this year on the European Tour, shot 67 (5-under) for the second-consecutive round and is at 12-under for the tournament.

Danny Lee, making his second appearance in the CIMB Classic, withdrew during the third round on No. 1 (his 10th hole of the day) due to a finger injury.

American Ryan Moore, the two-time defending champion at the CIMB Classic is six back after a 6-under 66. Moore was on fire early on Saturday, opening with four birdies in a row, but cooled off with bogeys at the 7th and 9th. In both of his previous wins, Moore held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes. With a win this week, Moore would become the first player since Steve Stricker to win the same PGA TOUR event three years in a row (John Deere Classic, ’09-11).

Bogey-free rounds:
R1 – Scott Piercy, Alex Cejka, Charles Howell III, Kevin Na, Chad Campbell, Brendon De Jonge, Jon Curran, Paul Casey, Russell Knox, Ben Martin, Carlos Ortiz

R2 – Justin Thomas, Brendan Steele, Spencer Levin, Hideki Matsuyama, Stewart Cink, Jason Gore, James Hahn, David Hearn, Kyle Reifers, Jim Herman, Daniel Summerhays, Kevin Chappell.

R3 – Brendan Steele, James Hahn, David Lingmerth, Patrick Reed, Cameron Tringale, Tony Finau, Russell Knox, Hudson Swafford, Zac Blair, Ben Crane.

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