Xander Schauffele keeps one-shot lead in defence of Hawaii title

American takes sole lead into final round for the first time in his pro career

 Xander Schauffele  plays a shot from a bunker on the 14th hole during the third round of the Sentry Tournament Of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course  Hawaii. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Xander Schauffele plays a shot from a bunker on the 14th hole during the third round of the Sentry Tournament Of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course Hawaii. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

 

Defending champion Xander Schauffele set himself up for a successful repeat when he took a one-stroke lead in the third round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Saturday.

Schauffele started the day leading by one and ended it the same way after a respectable two-under-par 71 in strong winds at the Kapalua Plantation course on the island of Maui.

He goes into Sunday’s final round at 11-under 208, with fellow American Justin Thomas nipping at his heels after a 69.

Schauffele, in uncharted territory with the first sole 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career, is three shots clear of third-placed Gary Woodland (69).

Patrick Reed and Joaquin Niemann, who teed off one stroke behind Schauffele, both backtracked with matching 74s, falling four adrift.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell slipped back to level par for the tournament after carding a three-over 76.

Schauffele came from five shots behind in the final round last year, shooting 62, and is looking forward to playing from in front this time.

“This is a newish realm I’m in, sleeping on the lead,” said the four-times PGA Tour winner. “Tomorrow’s going to be even windier, I saw in the forecast. You can expect all sorts of things to happen and I’ll just go with the flow.”

Second-placed Thomas, the 2017 champion, scorched around the front nine in five under par, but could not continue the torrid pace, dropping a shot on his inward half.

It was, nonetheless, a four-shot improvement over his Friday score.

“I chipped the ball horrendously yesterday, looked like a 20-handicapper,” said the world number four. “I’m pretty disappointed with my finish today. I could easily be 14 or 15 under now. I just need to build on that front nine.”

Third-placed Woodland last year led after 54 holes, only to finish second after being run down by the fast-finishing Schauffele.

This time Woodland will be the hunter after a round that included a double-bogey at the seventh.

“Outside of that I played really well,” said the US Open champion.

LEADERBOARD
(USA unless stated, par 73):

208 Xander Schauffele 69 68 71

209 Justin Thomas 67 73 69

211 Gary Woodland 73 69 69

212 Matthew Wolff 69 72 71, JT Poston 70 71 71, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 66 72 74, Jon Rahm (Esp) 69 73 70, Collin Morikawa 71 71 70, Kevin Kisner 72 72 68, Patrick Reed 72 66 74

213 Patrick Cantlay 69 71 73, Nate Lashley 71 71 71, Matt Kuchar 68 74 71, Rickie Fowler 68 71 74

214 Dustin Johnson 72 71 71, Lanto Griffin 71 71 72

215 Paul Casey (Eng) 74 72 69, Jim Herman 73 73 69, Tyler Duncan 69 78 68

216 Cameron Champ 73 74 69

217 Corey Conners (Can) 73 70 74

218 Max Homa 75 72 71, Ryan Palmer 71 72 75, Sung Kang (Kor) 72 73 73, Chez Reavie 74 71 73

219 Graeme McDowell (N Irl) 74 69 76, Brendon Todd 71 74 74, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 72 75 72

220 Adam Long 74 71 75

221 Keith Mitchell 76 72 73

222 Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 72 77 73

225 JB Holmes 78 71 76

227 Kevin Na 76 74 77

228 Martin Trainer 74 77 77

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