Patrick Reed on course to retain Humana Challenge

Defending champion in the hunt with four players sharing lead and 11 within three shots

Phil Mickelson looks to be out of contention with a tightly packed leaderboard in the Humana Challenge. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Phil Mickelson looks to be out of contention with a tightly packed leaderboard in the Humana Challenge. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

 

Defending champion Patrick Reed stayed in the hunt on day three but the final round of the PGA Tour Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California was set to see a dramatic trophy scramble.

The lead, on 17 under par, was shared by four players, but a further 11 were within three shots, striking distance ahead of a day when a score in the extreme low 60s may be required to land the title and million-dollar first prize.

The tournament has featured three courses: La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Palmer, and PGA West Nicklaus.

All competitors have played a round on each, and the final 18 holes will be played out exclusively on the Palmer course.

Who wins now is anybody’s guess, although the probability is that it will be an American, with the players on 17 under and 16 under all from the United States.

Erik Compton, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam are the four front-runners. Compton moved up the leaderboard with a five-under 67 on the Nicklaus course, where Haas shot a 69. Thomas signed for a 68 on the Palmer course while Putnam went round in 69 on his visit to the La Quinta Country Club.

A shot back on 16 under stand Scott Pinckney, Ryan Palmer, Steve Wheatcroft and Matt Kuchar. Kuchar had led going into the third round but lagged with a disappointing 71.

Given the congested nature of the leaderboard, a peculiarity saw daylight separate the top eight from the rest, with the group of seven on 14 under including Reed, who posted a handy 67 on the Palmer course, plus the European trio of Scotland’s Martin Laird (68), Italian Francesco Molinari (67) and German Alex Cejka (70).

South Korean Sung Joon Park, American Nick Watney and South African Rory Sabbatini stand on the same mark, each knowing they must finish mightily well to move into the frame.

Sabbatini would surely settle for a repeat of his Saturday score, having made nine birdies in a classy 63 that saw him jump 51 places into the share of ninth place.

Phil Mickelson, on 11 under, looks to be out of title contention, while England’s Paul Casey and Luke Donald both missed the three-round cut, which fell at eight under. Both had rounds of 70, and Casey missed out by one shot and Donald by six.

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