Kurt Kitayama leads, however defending champion Scottie Scheffler amongst quite a few chasers at Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO – On Sunday, somebody will don the winner’s pink alpaca sweater, the kind Arnold Palmer wore along with his unmistakable swagger and made well-known. In a sport that has its share of inexperienced jackets and tartan and seersucker coats to have a good time its champions, the pink sweater is an ideal match for the champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Zach Johnson, a person who already has possessed a inexperienced jacket in his closet, might have mentioned it greatest when requested what he’d do with Arnie’s pink sweater: “I might flip the A/C down actually low and sleep in it. ”

The leaderboard is stacked heading into the ultimate spherical at Bay Hill. There are 11 gamers inside 5 pictures together with his defending champion, Scottie Scheffler, previous champions Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton, main champions Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, Ryder Cuppers Harris English and Viktor Hovland, the reigning Arnold Palmer Rookie of the 12 months and Cameron Younger rising expertise Pierceson Coody and one of many hottest gamers within the recreation Max Homa. However they’re all chasing unheralded Kurt Kitayama, who’s searching for his first PGA Tour title.

Kitayama, who held the 36-hole lead, overcame a shaky begin to make birdies on two of his last three holes and card an even-par 72 to stay at 9 underneath and a stroke forward of Hovland (66) and Scheffler (68) .

“Simply pleased with the way in which I fought. Began off pretty strong first three holes after which one unfastened swing and I am 2-over,” mentioned Katayama, who made a double bogey on the fourth gap. “There is not any giving up. It is simply sort of in my nature, I really feel like. Even when it is going dangerous, you’ll be able to’t identical to pack it in. You struggle for each shot.”

The tee shot OB proper that led to a double at No. 4 proved to be a fluke – he hit 12 of 14 fairways on the day and ranks first on the week in driving accuracy – and after one other dropped shot – a bogey on the ninth – he rebounded to make his first birdie of the day at 10 .

“That was an enormous putt I made,” he mentioned of the 24-foot birdie. “It obtained me settled down much more, for certain. Issues felt like they may have simply spiraled uncontrolled there. After which the end, two of the final three. In order that was good.”

Hovland costs

Arnold Palmer would have authorised of Viktor Hovland’s play to this point this week. He began the event with a hole-out eagle on Thursday, made an ace at No. 7 on Friday and purchased the media drinks – Mr. Palmer’s favourite, Ketel One vodka no much less – after which shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Saturday to shoot into competition. Hovland, who tied for second final yr, is one stroke again heading into Sunday and paired with Kitayama within the last group.

Hovland has come to simply accept that enjoying at Arnie’s Place goes to be mentally draining and a grind, however this week he has been happy with how they’ve saved the inexperienced from changing into too slick.

“There’s nonetheless some friction on the greens,” he mentioned. “There’s nonetheless some greenness to ’em. Should you hit good pictures, you will get the ball to cease. Nevertheless it’s undoubtedly not straightforward.”

Neither is coping with the fickle winds at Bay Hill. When instructed that the wind is predicted to put down on Sunday, Hovland smiled and mentioned, “I am going to imagine it once I see it.”

Scheffler’s protection

2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

Scottie Scheffler hits his drive on the tenth gap in the course of the third spherical of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf event. Obligatory Credit score: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports activities

Scottie Scheffler already has defended one title this season – on the WM Phoenix Open – and he isn’t happening and not using a struggle on the Arnold Palmer Invitational, both. Scheffler made 5 birdies in his last seven holes, together with on the ultimate three holes, to publish 4-under 68 and share second place with Hovland, only a stroke again of Kitayama.

Scheffler obtained off to an detached begin with two bogeys in his first 5 holes however stayed affected person.

“I feel the chip-in on 12 sort of turned across the day,” he mentioned of his hole-out from 20 toes off the inexperienced. “I hit a superb drive off the tee there, obtained in a bizarre spot. Hit a reasonably good shot from there and obtained in one other bizarre spot. It was good to see that ball go in.”

If Scheffler defends his title, he may return to World No. 1 relying on how Jon Rahm, who’s at present T-44, finishes.

“I feel round this golf course, as you see at present, there’s guys which have gone from very far behind to within the lead,” Scheffler mentioned. “If this was Sunday Viktor and I could also be going right into a playoff and he began fairly far behind. Round this place if you will get scorching you are by no means too far out of it. I simply tried to maintain reminding myself of that.”

Hatton’s placing repair works wonders

Tyrrell Hatton walks out of the scorers tent following his third spherical of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf event. Obligatory Credit score: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports activities

Previous API champion Tyrrell Hatton is searching for an identical pink sweater to go along with the one he collected in 2020 and retains at his house in close by Lake Nona.

Hatton was pissed off after taking pictures 72 on Friday, ending 3 over on his last 5 holes regardless of hitting just one dangerous shot in his estimation.

“That is the way in which this course is ready up,” he mentioned.

Equally irritating was his efficiency on the placing inexperienced, the place he ranked No. 97 for the second spherical in Strokes Gained: Placing (-1,382).

“I’ve at all times putted nicely right here, and the primary two days I struggled with my reads and it was just a little irritating,” he defined. “At the moment, I stood a hair wider and from my first putt on placing inexperienced it felt good. It is a bizarre recreation the place you get a superb feeling and also you simply attempt to run with it.”

On Saturday, Hatton ranked first in SGP (+4,192), and shot a bogey-free 66 to climb inside two strokes of the lead. It marked his eleventh spherical within the 60s at Bay Hill since 2017, most of any participant in that span.

“I obtained a very good par putt on 10,” Hatton mentioned. “And that sort of, I assume, simply actually obtained me going.”

Rory JT Jordan Oh My

Rory McIlroy hits a bunker shot on the ninth gap in the course of the third spherical of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf event. Obligatory Credit score: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports activities

This leaderboard has just a little of every little thing. The 120-man invitational discipline is enjoying for $20 million this week, and the large boys have come out to play.

Rory McIlroy, after a gap 73, has surged into competition with a 4-under 68 on Saturday to enhance to 6-under 210 and tied for fifth with Harris English.

“I obtained myself proper into the event, into the thick of issues for tomorrow,” McIlroy mentioned. “Any time you’ll be able to go bogey-free on the weekend at Bay Hill you are doing one thing proper.”

McIlroy additionally famous the spectacular efficiency by former Texas grad and Korn Ferry Tour rookie Pierceson Coody, who’s taking advantage of a sponsor’s exemption this week.

“The truth that Pierceson’s right here and made the lower after which goes out and shoots 66 this morning and unexpectedly he finds himself within the golf event,” McIlroy mentioned of Coody, who improved to five underneath. “However he is clearly been enjoying nicely on the Korn Ferry Tour and it is nice to see guys like that get a possibility.”

Coody can be paired within the last spherical with reigning PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, who shot even-par 72 on Saturday and is T-7. Thomas made only one birdie all day – at No. 5 – and spoiled a bogey-free day with a dropped shot on the final.

Jordan Spieth is the third participant at 5-under 211 after struggling to 74 on Saturday.

“I performed poorly. Actually simply did not hit my driver nicely. I solely discovered a few fairways. At this place that is actually dangerous. I imply, there’s nothing you are able to do. So I simply have to search out extra fairways tomorrow,” Spieth mentioned. “Simply sort of regressed. Simply had a very off day.”

Tomorrow is one other day and one would count on both Thomas or Spieth, if not each, to make a number of extra birdies.

Story initially appeared on GolfWeek

Leave a Comment