Hot Putters Prevail In China
Slammin Sammy Snead always said, “drive for show, putt for dough“. That old quip was proven in the third round of the WGC-HSBC at the very benign Mission Hills Golf Course. With greens running only 11.3 on the Stimpmeter, the great putters on both the PGA, and European Tour made their way to the top of the leader board Saturday afternoon on the 7300 yard , par 72 Olazabal Course.
Lee Westwood shot a bogey free -11 under par 61 to pull even with second round leader Louis Oosthuizen at -18 under par. Westwood had his putter working all day, and began his assault right at the first hole. He went on his first birdie run with three straight, and put together a run of four in a row on the back nine that started on the 14th hole.
Oostheuzen lost the flat stick magic and couldn’t seem to get one to fall. He ended the third round with a mortal -2 under 70 in an up and down day that saw him bogey the par 3 fifth hole, and the par 4 12th. His short game was not up to par, and he was not chipping to gimme length as he did in the previous two days.
It was a good day in China for some of the Americans who played here this week. Phil Mickelson made a march up the leaderboard, and Brandt Snedeker flirted with European Tour history by posting a 60 on the day. Phil shot a 66 Saturday, and moved up to sole possession of third place at -15 under par, only three strokes off the pace.
Snedeker fired a bogey free round that included a whopping eleven birdies, and an Eagle 3 at the par 5 15th hole. He went to the eighteenth hole needing only one more birdie to post the the first 59 in European Tour history. His 20 ft putt on 18, just slid by on the right side, adding his name to the list of players that got to within one stroke of the record. He ended up alone in seventh place at -13 under par.
Bill Haas shot -6 under 66 to move into a three way tie for fourth place with South African Ernie Els , and Ian Poulter at -4 under par, and only four strokes back. Bubba Watson rebounded from the Snowman he posted at the par 5 15th hole on Friday to shoot 69 on the day, and joined Keegan Bradley at -9 under par.
Peter Hanson, who was looking to make up some ground on Race To Dubai points leader Rory McIlroy this week, shot a one over par 73 on Saturday. After his 71 on Friday, this puts him back at -6 under par on the tournament, twelve strokes back going into the final round Sunday.