Buckley makes a pair of eagles and leads the Sony Open

Buckley makes a pair of eagles and leads the Sony Open

HONOLULU (AP) — Two shots were all it took for Hayden Buckley to become another face in a huge crowd of contenders for a two-shot lead Saturday at the Sony Open.

On a day when there was an eight-way tie for the lead at one point, Buckley hit a pair of eagles on the back nine at Waialae that took him to a 6-under-par 64 second in a row and allowed him at least a little break. .

One of them was a 133-yard wedge that he thought pulled a left passer on the number 10, the third-easiest hole on the course. Instead, it turned out perfect.

“It was nice to see that,” Buckley said. “I pulled on it a little bit and wasn’t sure where it was going to land.”

The other was among his best swings of the day, a 221-yard 5-iron that rolled 2 feet to the left front pin on the par-5 18th hole.

Otherwise it was a steady diet of pars and the occasional birdie on a course where the fairways run fast.

“We did exactly what we were trying to do and we came out with two shots, we had two big eagles,” Buckley said. “Our game plan remains the same. If we play well enough, that’s great. If not, we just take care of it.”

He was at 15-under 195 when Buckley seeks his first PGA Tour title in his second full year, and he’s not alone in that regard.

He will be in the final group with David Lipsky (66) and Ben Taylor (65), neither of whom have won on the PGA Tour. Lipsky has won on the Asian Tour, the Sunshine Tour, the European tour, and the Korn Ferry Tour.

Nine of the 15 leading players at Waialae are seeking their first PGA Tour victory.

Chris Kirk was also two shots behind. He entered the third round with a one stroke lead and good vibes due to a second-place finish from him two years ago that allowed him to maintain his full tour status. His first shot headed towards the houses on the right side of the first fairways, out of bounds and giving rise to a double bogey.

He was otherwise solid from there, though he missed a 6-foot birdie putt at 18 that would have put him in the final group.

Kirk has four wins on the PGA Tour, but the last one was at Colonial in 2015. It felt like a win two years ago at Waialae. He had withdrawn from golf to treat alcoholism and depression, and his 65 on the final day at the Sony Open to tie for second place was enough to maintain his full status.

So I wasn’t sure I had an advantage because of the winning experience.

“If I had won three weeks ago, maybe,” Kirk said. “But it’s been a while. I definitely know what it takes, but I also know that it’s not easy to do. But I definitely like where I am. I like the way my golf game feels. Obviously, I feel very comfortable and I love this place, so I’m excited for the opportunity against these guys who haven’t won. Most of them are probably 15 years younger than me.”

Kirk wasn’t the only player getting off to a slow start. Lipsky’s opening drive went left and he bounced along the concrete path to the right of the driving range until he settled outside the white stakes. He managed to limit the damage to a bogey when he putt 25 feet. He followed that up by taking two chips to get to the second green for another bogey, and then had seven birdies the rest of the way.

“It’s never ideal when your ball goes 50 yards down the OB path,” Lipsky said. “I’m pretty happy with how I played and how I handled those first two holes.”

While the third round wasn’t nearly as bizarre as Friday’s (Jordan Spieth went from sharing the lead to missing the cut, Rory Sabbatini coming within one of the lead to three consecutive double bogeys), there was enough to tell that 18 more holes they could feel like a marathon for those trying to win for the first time.

SH Kim, the rookie from South Korea, made four birdies in a row to take the lead at the turn. And then, on the 10th hole, the third-easiest at Waialae, he had 124 yards from the center of the fairway and made a double bogey, a green-jumping approach, a 30-foot chip and three-putt.

Byeong Hun An had a 66 and was tied for 16th, six shots behind. That includes his quadruple bogey 8 on the 10th hole after his shot was in the middle of the fairway, 87 yards from the hole. An went long after a back pin, missed a chip, twice had a wedge slip under the ball lying in the thick grass. It was a disaster.


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