Snedeker, Blair tied for lead at Sony Open

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 17, 2016 12:39 PM
Snedeker, Blair tied for lead at Sony Open
Brandt Snedeker drives on the first tee box during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer

  
HONOLULU (AP) — Even after missing a 2-foot birdie putt on his last hole, it wasn't hard for Zac Blair to see nothing but opportunity Saturday at the Sony Open.

Blair three-putted for par on the closing par 5 at Waialae and had to settle for a 6-under 64, giving him a share of the lead with Brandt Snedeker as the 25-year-old from Utah goes after his first PGA Tour victory.

Snedeker missed birdie putts of 10 feet and 12 feet on the last two holes for a 66.

They were at 16-under 194, and they still had plenty of company.

Kevin Kisner recovered from a 5-iron that wound up on the other side of the corporate tents behind the par-3 17th for his only bogey of the round. He got up-and-down from behind the green on the 18th for a birdie and a 66, leaving him one shot behind.

Kisner will be in the final group for the third time in his last four PGA Tour starts.

Si Woo Kim, the 20-year-old from South Korea, finished strong with a birdie and an eagle for a 65 that put him two back.

Blair, whose father played briefly on the PGA Tour in the 1980s, is in his second year on tour and facing his first big test. Snedeker is a seven-time PGA Tour winner, while Kisner is one of the hottest players in golf not named Jordan Spieth.

The 2-foot putt that he pulled on the 18th hole cost him the lead, though one stroke means nothing on a course like Waialae that has produced low scores with only a moderate breeze all week.

"Just pulled it. Nothing more to it," Blair said with a shrug. "Didn't hit the best putt and it didn't go in."

He wasn't the only player to struggle on the 18th. Jeff Overton was poised to shoot 62 when he took four shots to get in from a greenside bunker on the 18th and made bogey for a 64. He was five shots behind. Fabian Gomez of Argentina had a 65 and was four back.

Saturday at least produced a little separation. Two dozen players were within five shots of the lead when the third round began. Now there are 12. That includes Matt Kuchar, who closed with six straight birdies for a 62 — a card that included two bogeys.

Snedeker started the third round with a one-shot lead and kept at least a share of it until Blair, playing in the group in front of him, rolled in an 18-foot birdie on the 15th hole. By then it appeared to be a three-man battle among Snedeker, Blair and Kisner.

British Open champion Zach Johnson was part of the mix until falling behind on the back nine. Johnson was two shots off the lead at the turn when he had a pair of long three-putt bogeys and missed a 4-foot par putt. He wound up with a 70 and was six shots behind.

Blair stayed near the leaders all day, catching Snedeker briefly with a birdie at the ninth and another at the 13th.

"I obviously don't hit it as far as most of the guys out here," Blair said. "But at the end of the day, I think it just kind of comes down to getting the ball in the hole, and if you're able to do that, you obviously seem to be finding yourself at the top of the leaderboard more often than not."

Kisner knows that better than most.

He was in the final threesome at the HSBC Champions that Russell Knox won in Shanghai, and then won with a three-shot lead going into the final round at Sea Island. He tied for the lead with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 13th and stay there with a tough par save at the 15th.

It was 5-iron at the 17th he would like to have back. Kisner tried to play a cut into the wind and it didn't cut.

"I thought I killed somebody in the stands," he said. It went behind the tent, and Kisner's drop was in deep rough that he didn't reach the green and made bogey. The birdie at the last put him in the last group, and that's where he wanted to be.

"I think it's huge tomorrow so you know what's going on," he said.

With 87 players making the cut, there was a Saturday cut of top 70s and ties that knocked out Davis Love III and 12 others. Love was among three players who are in the Champions Tour season debut next week on the Big Island, and the other two nearly missed the cut. Fred Funk, who turns 60 this year, birdied his final hole to make it on the number. Vijay Singh, who started four shots out of the lead, was on the cut line until making a long birdie putt on the 17th.

Singh, who turns 53 next month and could have become the PGA Tour's oldest winner in history, shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

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