Six players carded a 63 and four players are tied for the lead at 15-under heading into the final round at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head.
Webb Simpson began the day with the lead, but he had been eclipsed by the time he and Bryson DeChambeau tied off in the final pairing.
“Today played like typical Harbour Town, I thought — windy, some gusts, some tricky shots,” Simpson said. “The golf course burned up completely there on the back nine. So my 3 under this morning wouldn’t have been any good, but it was pretty good this afternoon.”
Colleyville resident Ryan Palmer fired a third round 66 to join Simpson, Tyrrell Hatton and Abraham Ancer atop the leaderboard.
“Great day, knowing I had to come out and shoot a low round today,” Palmer said. “When I got here this morning, six 63s, the scores were there. So 15th place, three back when I teed off. It’s nice to know, when it gets to your round, you can come out and shoot 5 under and now you’re at the top of the leaderboard.”
Daniel Berger, winner of last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, is in a group that is one shot back at 14-under.
“Obviously, a lot of good things happen when you win,” Berger said. “Obviously, there’s also some confidence that comes with that. So just kind of been playing good golf, and I continued another good round today.”
Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are three shots back at 12-under.
Jordan Spieth had five bogeys and a double bogey in a third round 75 that left him 13 shots out of the lead and ahead of only Xander Schauffele going into Sunday.
The field was a combined 223-under par, the most of any round in this tournament’s history and while the low scores were a big story, the talk of the tournament still revolved around yesterday’s news that Nick Watney had tested positive for COVID-19.
The PGA TOUR released an update this morning:
With Friday’s confirmed COVID-19 case of a competitor in the RBC Heritage field, the PGA TOUR implemented its response plan in consultation with medical experts including working with those who may have had close contact with Nick Watney. As a result, 11 tests were conducted on Friday with all 11 tests being negative.
“I mean, no offense to Hilton Head, but they’re seeming to not take it very seriously,” Justin Thomas said. “It’s an absolute zoo around here. There’s people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I’ve seen when I’ve been driving by, is absolutely crowded. So I would say it’s still coincidence that there’s got to be a lot of stuff going on around here. Unfortunately, that’s not on Nick because I know he’s very cautious and has done everything he can, but I would say a lot of people in this area of Hilton Head just aren’t.”
Rory McIlroy was among those who came in contact with Watney on Friday as they spoke on the putting green.
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ve done really well to start golf again and get back up and play golf tournaments. I don’t think anyone was blind to the fact that someone could catch the virus, and it’s a shame that Nick did. But as I said last night, it’s one case, and as long as it’s contained to that and we move forward, we can keep playing.”
Watney traveled from his home in Austin to Hilton Head on a private jet along with Sergio Garcia. Garcia was among the 11 tested by the PGA TOUR and he came up negative.
“I felt terrible for Nick because he’s probably one of the nicest guys on TOUR,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, it had to happen to him. So there’s a lot of other people that probably deserved it a lot more than him, and he’s the one that got it. I was a little bit afraid because, obviously, we knew — I gave him a ride on Tuesday, but when we landed on Tuesday, we got tested. We were both negative. So it was all good. Then I was surprised to hear that he tested positive two days, three days later. Obviously, I got my test done yesterday, and I was negative.”