E = Muirfield Village Squared: DeChambeau leads Memorial Tournament after day three

Dublin, OH— If there is one thing known about Bryson DeChambeau, it is that he knows information in languages not many others understand, which is why the Albert Einstein fan was happy to share a swing theory he still questioned before leaving the flash interview area Saturday.

“I’m not going to give too much away, but it’s got to do with anatomical limits of your body and how you can best utilize them for your proprioception,” he said. “How about that?”

One thing which certainly provides no information overload is that DeChambeau owns the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide lead after three rounds of play, his first career 54-hole lead.

“I played great, obviously,” said DeChambeau. “I am ecstatic about where I am.”

A big reason for that is DeChambeau’s putter which is the same he used at last year’s Valspar Championship. He has jumped up 60 spots in Strokes Gained: Putting and is third in the field this week in addition to being second in the field in scrambling.

“Sik Golf has been incredibly instrumental to my putting,” DeChambeau said. “Being able to utilize the Quintic system has been awesome. It shows us the launch angles. I can be comfortable with how it feels off the face knowing that it’s going to roll the same every single time. So having that system, as well as confidence, in their descending loft technology has really helped me to consistently improve over the course of time. Seeing putts going in doesn’t hurt at all.”

In his round, DeChambeau birdied four of his last six holes after playing even-par golf otherwise on the back nine.

DeChambeau will carry momentum into Sunday’s final round with a his birdie on the 18th hole which was made from just south of five feet and secured a bogey-free round, his first of the week.

“I just want to birdie every hole,” said DeChambeau. “That’s all we’re trying to do out there. Any time you can hopefully be in the last group it’s nice, but if not, it’s still an opportunity to win. No matter if you’re one back or tied for the lead. So every hole is an opportunity to make a birdie and that’s just what I’m going to try and do every single day.”

It should be noted that the 54-hole leader of the Memorial Tournament has won this event 19 times in the previous 42 installments with William McGirt’s 2016 win the most recent.

DeChambeau’s improvement within the past year includes a second place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, a tie for third at the RBC Heritage and a fourth place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship, all of which have been since March.

What also could help DeChambeau’s cause is that he has experience in the winner’s circle having won last year’s John Deere Classic by one shot, though he feels his game is in a different state.

“I know that I can hit the fairways more consistently,” he said. “I know can make a lot more putts, that’s for sure. So I am a little bit different in regards to mentality from the John Deere to this year, and how I’ve played this year. I’ve played beautifully, had a lot of top-5 finishes, been right up there in contention. I just hope that tomorrow I can get out there and do the same thing, not get ahead of myself, and make sure that I’m taking care of each and every shot and not worrying about the next or the one before.”

In pursuit

By no means is DeChambeau’s advantage a big one, in fact Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann and Kyle Stanley all are a single stroke behind.

Cantlay aced the par-4 eighth hole using a 7-iron from 185 yards. This is his second hole-in-one of the season with the other coming at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the Monterrey Peninsula Country Club.

“It was perfect,” Cantlay said. “It landed just short of the flag and pitched in. Second one of the year. I tracked it basically the whole way and fortunate to have it go in. Just lucky whenever it goes in from that distance but very happy.”

This was the second consecutive year the hole surrendered an ace with Harold Varner III accomplishing the feat in round four of the 2017 event.

Cantlay also recorded an eagle at the par-5 15th hole. On the week, he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green (+9.837) and second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (+10.726).

A win for Cantlay would make him the sixth player to claim multiple wins this season after getting in the winner’s circle at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

“It’s great to be in contention,” he said. “That’s what I play for, that’s what I practice for. And it’s exciting. That’s the most fun I can have out on the golf course, is being in contention. So just go out and stick to my game plan and hit a bunch of fairways and greens.”

Niemann held a solo lead for part of the round but did record three bogeys in his round. He told reporters that he did not play well enough but that the feeling of playing in the final group Saturday was a good one.

“I feel I’m going to sleep really happy today,” said Niemann. “I hope tomorrow is going to be a nice day. I think tomorrow just play 18 more holes. It’s a strong field on the leaderboard and I think everybody’s going to go out there and try to make the most birdies possible. So I think that I have to go low tomorrow to have a chance.”

Stanley had a slow start with three bogeys and one birdie in his first six holes but remained in the round and fired an even par front nine before three birdies on the back nine. Had Stanley not recorded bogey on the par-4 18th hole, he would have been on level footing with DeChambeau.

“I felt from probably 7 on I played pretty well,” Stanley said. “I just couldn’t really get anything going to start the round. Other then that, pretty happy with how I recovered and I’ll take 2-under today.”

Stanley has compiled 20 birdies which ranks first in the field.

Rounding out the top five is Byeong Hun An who recorded his second consecutive bogey-free round and is 12-under par for the Memorial Tournament. He has gone 42 holes without recording a bogey.

“That’s quite nice out here,” said An. “I could have made a lot more birdies, I guess. Yesterday I feel like I hit it better, and then today I was struggling on the greens with the speed. I left a lot of putts short today. Bogey-free, 3-under, that’s not too bad here.”

Also in contention are 2010 Memorial Tournament and last week’s PGA TOUR winner Justin Rose (-10/6), Tiger Woods (-9/T7) and Rory McIlroy (-8/T11).

“I think now there are going to be guys behind you that are going to kind of free wheel it and are going to play well, so the mindset’s got to be that you got to continue to kind of play your game,” Stanley said. “To win this golf tournament tomorrow, one of us is going to have to put up a pretty good number.”

2018 Memorial Tournament Third Round Leaderboard

1. Bryson DeChambeau -14

T2. Patrick Cantlay -13

T2. Joaquin Niemann -13

T2. Kyle Stanley -13

5. Byeong Hun An -12

6. Justin Rose -10

T7. J.B. Holmes -9

T7. Whee Kim -9

T7. Hideki Matsuyama -9

T7. Tiger Woods -9

Secondary cut made

With 81 golfers, making it to the weekend, there was a secondary cut made which will mean that not everyone will play Sunday.

A secondary cut is made when more than 78 players make the weekend. Sam Burns, Robert Streb, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Patton Kizzire, Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin and Yuta Ikeda all will not compete in the final round.

Sunday pairings

Due to expected weather, Memorial Tournament fourth round play will take place with split tees and threesomes which will range from 7:30-9:30 a.m. It should be noted that there was a rain delay Friday due to lightning spotted in the area.

Here are some notable pairings for Sunday’s play.

Dustin Johnson, Ryan Armour, Jason Day 7:40 1 Tee

Branden Grace, Phil Mickelson, Martin Laird 7:50 1 Tee

Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, Patrick Rodgers 8:20 1 Tee

Si Woo Kim, Wesley Bryan, Rickie Fowler 8:30 1 Tee

Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, David Lingmerth 9:00 1 Tee

Whee Kim, Tiger Woods, J.B. Holmes 9:10 1 Tee

Joaquin Niemann, Byeong Hun An, Justin Rose 9:20 1 Tee

Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Kyle Stanley 9:30 1 Tee

19th hole

If there is a playoff after 72 holes, then the playoff would be played on 18 then if necessary, 18, 10, 14… If Rose wins, he could overtake Justin Thomas as the top-ranked player. Dustin Johnson (-6) also could reclaim the top spot with various scenarios, again depending on how Thomas finishes. Thomas currently is 7-under par for the week… DeChambeau joined An, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott as the lone bogey-free rounds Saturday. For a second consecutive day, the par-4 18th hole played most difficult, this time at 4.222 and the par-5 seventh hole played easiest at 4.568.

Author: Zac Weiss