Simpson one of four leaders with RBC Heritage set for frantic finish, Koepka three back

By Sports Desk June 20, 2020

Webb Simpson is one of four players in a tie for the lead at the RBC Heritage after the third round on Hilton Head Island.

Former U.S. Open champion Simpson is level at 15 under par through 54 holes alongside Tyrrell Hatton, Abraham Ancer and Ryan Palmer.

Simpson, the 2013 RBC Heritage runner-up, held the outright lead overnight but could only manage a three-under 68 in a round that contained four birdies and one bogey.

His fellow American Palmer shot 66, while Mexican Ancer posted a third-round 65 to join Simpson at the front of the PGA Tour event.

Englishman Hatton also surged into contention and shares the lead after following up a disappointing opening round of 71 with scores of 64 and 63.

His eight-under effort on Saturday was tied for the best of the day along with five other players.

Similarly to last week's Charles Schwab Challenge, the top of the leaderboard is hugely congested going into the final day.

There are 17 players sitting within three strokes of the four leaders.

Daniel Berger (63) – the winner at Colonial – matched Hatton's total and is one of three men one shot behind on 14 under along with Joel Dahmen (63) and Carlos Ortiz (63).

Ian Poulter (67) – who held a share of the lead after round one – is two strokes off the pace along with Sergio Garcia (65) and a further six competitors.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (68) and former world number one Dustin Johnson (67) remain in contention at 12 under, as does Bryson DeChambeau despite struggling in a third round of 70.

Despite a five-under-par 66, world number one Rory McIlroy has work to do at 10 under heading into the final round.

McIlroy sits five shots behind Simpson, Hatton, Ancer and Palmer in a tie for 28th after holing six birdies and a bogey – eight strokes better off than Jordan Spieth, who struggled in a four-over-par 75.

Meanwhile, the field was a combined 223-under par, the most of any round in this tournament's history, surpassing 178 under in 2015.

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    Stewart Cink broke another record as he maintained his five-shot lead at the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage to remain on track for his third title at Harbour Town Golf Links.

    The 47-year-old 2000 and 2004 RBC Heritage champion carded a two-under 69 to set another record for lowest 54 holes with an 18-under 195.

    Cink had broken Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson's 36-hole 129 mark after back-to-back 63s on the opening two days.

    The American held a five-shot lead after day two but bogeyed on the third on Saturday before successive birdies on a steady round where he preserved his advantage.

    Cink has a two for 12 record in closing out final day leads on the PGA Tour but said he would embrace the challenge.

    “I've certainly been nervous and thrown up on myself and I've also played great in that situation," Cink said.

    "You know, I think it's a lot better to embrace it and enjoy it and feel the tingle as opposed to trying to act like it's not there.”

    World number four Collin Morikawa moved into second with a four-under 67 to be 13-under, one shot ahead of Argentine Emiliano Grillo.

    Canadian Corey Conners had been second but slipped to equal sixth after carding a one-over round of 72.

    Day one leader Cameron Smith continued to slide with a three-over 74, while last week's Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot 71 to be off the pace.

    Englishman Matt Wallace and American Webb Simpson were the movers, with rounds of 65 and 64 seeing them both climb up to equal fourth and sixth respectively.

  • Cink breaks 36-hole record to earn five-shot lead at RBC Heritage Cink breaks 36-hole record to earn five-shot lead at RBC Heritage

    Stewart Cink made history after moving five shots clear in his pursuit of a third RBC Heritage title.

    Two-time champion Cink carded a second successive 63 to set the 36-hole record at Harbour Town on Friday.

    Cink sits at 16-under 126, five strokes ahead of Corey Conners – eclipsing the previous best midway score of 129 set by Phil Mickelson (2002) and Jack Nicklaus (1975).

    The 47-year-old Cink also became the oldest player to hole the 36-hole lead at the RBC Heritage – his last 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour was at the 2008 Travelers Championship.

    Cink has catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard alongside his son and caddie, Reagan.

    "He's not just my son caddying, he's a professional caddie doing an excellent job," he said. "He could caddie for any player in the world right now."

    Canadian Conners posted a seven-under-par 64 to be outright second, a stroke ahead of Emiliano Grillo (64) heading into the weekend, while overnight leader Cameron Smith (71) fell seven shots behind.

    "I think the golfing gods got a few back on me today," Australian Smith said.

    Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a four-under-par 67 to be tied for 11th position, nine strokes adrift of Cink.

    World number one Dustin Johnson climbed 27th spots following a second-round 67 as he sits 11 shots back.

    Defending champion Webb Simpson, meanwhile, is three under at the half-way stage after his 68.

  • Matsuyama's Masters win has changed golf and Olympic gold could follow, says former caddie Matsuyama's Masters win has changed golf and Olympic gold could follow, says former caddie

    Hideki Matsuyama's history-making Masters triumph has changed the face of golf, according to the 29-year-old's former caddie.

    Matsuyama claimed the famous green jacket on Sunday, becoming the first Japanese man to win a major tournament in the process.

    His victory came in thrilling fashion, Matsuyama seeing off competition from Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele to finish 10 under par at Augusta.

    Before Matsuyama's achievement, female stars Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) were Japan's previous golf major winners.

    Daisuke Shindo caddied for Matsuyama between 2013 and 2018, and he believes Matsuyama's win will lead to a change in the sport not only in Asia, but across the globe.

    "He has made history, not only in Japan but also Asia and the world. I think it was a moment that changed the world of golf. I think it was such a great achievement," Shindo told Stats Perform News.

    "I think that is huge. We grew up watching Tiger Woods when we were young. I grew up watching Jumbo Ozaki and Shigeki Maruyama. I still admire them now.

    "I think it was a great inspiration for all the children who saw Hideki win the Masters, and not only the children but also the professional golfers.

    "I think Hideki's victory had a great impact on people who don't play golf. For the past a couple of days, I've been hearing 'golf, golf' anywhere all over town. It's amazing. I've never heard ordinary young people talking about golf. I think it's amazing."

    Shindo also backed Matsuyama to win another major this year, as he believes his ex-university classmate has finally delivered on his promise after previously managing five PGA Tour wins.

    "Every player is really hard on themselves. That's why they keep the position as top athletes," Shindo added.

    "But if you're too hard on yourself, you're not going to be able to relax and you're going to get frustrated. Golf is a sport [in] which you have to accept mistakes, but it's very important to find a balance. I think Matsuyama accepted his mistakes this time and played golf in a very positive way.

    "Even in a tough situation, he didn't panic, and even when the flow of the game was bad, he was always patient. He didn't look frustrated, he wasn’t shaken at all and looked calm.

    "I still play golf and have dinner with Hideki when he comes back to Japan. We are more like brothers in arms than former partners.

    "I was really happy. I saw how he was always fighting, with all the pressure from Japanese supporters. At the moment Hideki was finally rewarded, I really cried."

    One certain way to cement golf's growing popularity in Japan would be with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with Shindo foreseeing a rise to world number one.

    "I think it has boosted the confidence of not just Matsuyama but all the members of 'Team Matsuyama'," Shindo said.

    "It's a great way to build momentum as a team. Now Hideki has that confidence. I think the team will be strong when that happens. I am confident that he will win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

    "For Hideki, it's better for him to have a little pressure. He is such a strong and big guy. I think he's going to do well at the Olympics and he's going to be number one in the world ranking.

    "When I was on tour with him, his highest ranking was two, but I think he will rise to number one."

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