PGA Tour

Hughes stays in PGA lead despite stumble

2016-11-20 05:55
Mackenzie Hughes (Getty)

Miami - Canada's Mackenzie Hughes overcame a triple bogey to shoot a two-under-par 68 and keep a one-stroke lead after Saturday's windy third round of the US PGA Tour's RSM Classic.

Hughes took a 7 at the par-4 11th, his only over-par hole in the first 54, to stand on 16-under 196 entering Sunday's final round at the par-70 Seaside course at the Sea Island, Georgia, resort.

The 25-year-old tour rookie from Hamilton, ranked 287th in the world, is playing in only his ninth PGA event. His best result was a share of 13th in last month's 2016-17 campaign opener, the Safeway Classic.

Sharing second on 197 were Taiwan's Pan Cheng-Tsung, Colombia's Camilo Villegas and American Billy Horschel with American Chesson Hadley another stroke adrift.

Hughes started strong with a 16-foot birdie putt at the second hole and one twice as long at the par-3 third. Then came seven pars in a row before his disaster at 11.

Hughes found native brush area off the tee to the right of the fairway, then put his second and third shots into fairway bunkers. After reaching the green on his fourth shot, the Canadian ran a seven-foot double bogey putt past the cup and tapped in to end the misery.

"I was like, 'This hole is never going to end,'" Hughes said. "It finally did and it worked out all right."

He responded with another 16-foot birdie putt at the 13th then added a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, a 10-footer at the 16th and two closing pars to sustain his hopes of being the tour's first wire-to-wire winner since top-ranked Australian Jason Day at this year's Players Championship.

"It was nice to bounce back and to feel like I'm going this way not stepping back," Hughes said.

Villegas overcame an early stumble to shoot a 64. He three-putted from 10 feet to double bogey the par-3 third hole, then birdied three of the next five holes, opened the back nine with back-to-back birdies and responded after a bogey at 13 with birdies on the last four holes.

"The putter got hot," the Colombian said. "I made pretty much everything. You can panic a little bit and I actually was. I kind of got composed and I got going again. Very happy with how I handled myself."

Villegas has not cracked the top 10 since his most recent of four PGA wins at Greensboro in 2010.

Horschel, who has not won since the 2014 Tour Championship, sank a nine-foot birdie putt at 18 to close a bogey-free round of 65.

"I'm hitting the ball really good, the best I have in 18 months," Horschel said. "I'm really able to control my golf shots. I've played this course a lot. I know where to be aggressive and where not."

Tour rookie Pan, the 2014 Asian Games champion, shot a 67. The world number 215 is making only his 10th US PGA start, trying to improve on his best showing, a share of 25th at last year's Travelers Championship.

Read more on:    pga tour  |  rsm classic  |  golf


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