Buckley’s Eagles Give Him 2-Shot Lead over Lipsky, Taylor, Kirk in Sony Open

Eagles lifted Hayden Buckley to the top of the leaderboard.

Buckley started and finished the back nine with eagles while posting a second straight six-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over David Lipsky of Los Angeles, Ben Taylor of England and Chris Kirk heading to the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

“It was a testament to just being patient,” said Buckley, who has not won on the PGA Tour. “I missed a three-, four-footer for birdie kind of early on and I just stuck with it. I hit a lot of greens, obviously, but I hit them in some tougher spots today, a lot of shots pin-high, with a lot more break and a little bit quicker putts. I feel like I just played smart.

“We did exactly what we were trying to do and got away with two shots, had two big eagles. I did pull it a little bit (on the 10th hole), wasn’t sure where it was going to land and definitely got a little lucky. The one on the last hole was a very good shot.

 “Our game plan stays the same. If we play well enough, that’s great. If not, we just deal with it.”

The 26-year-old Buckley, whose two pro victories came in the 2019 ATB Financial Classic on the PGA Tour Canada and the 2021 Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour, holed a wedge shot from 133 yards at No. 10 and tapped in from two feet for a closing eagle to record at 54-hole score of 15-under 195.

Kirk, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first two rounds, overcame a double-bogey 6 on the first hole with five birdies the rest of the way for a 68, while Lipsky birdied two of the last three holes for a 66 and Taylor birdied four of the last seven to cap a 65.

“If I had won three weeks ago maybe,” Kirk said of his chances to win. “But it’s been a little while. I definitely know what it takes, but also know it’s not easy to do. But I definitely like where I’m at. I like the way my golf game feels.

“Obviously, I’m very comfortable and love this place, so I’m excited for the opportunity against these guys (on the leaderboard) who haven’t won. Most of them are probably 15 years I younger than me.”

Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine birdied five holes after starting on the back nine and then birdied the last five holes on the front for a 62 that included a single bogey and is three shots behind in a tie for fifth with Si Woo Kim of South Korea, who had seven birdies and one bogey in a 64.

Will Gordon made five of his eight birdies on the back nine against a lone bogey at No. 16 and is four down in a tie for seventh with Nate Lashley, who made five birdies on the front nine and added one more with a five-foot putt on the last hole for a 65 that included a single bogey at No. 15.

Nick Taylor of Canada collected nine birdies against one bogey at No. 8 in a 62 and is five strokes behind in a tie for ninth with Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley and Stanford, who sank a 10-foot birdie at No. 18 for a 67; Ben Griffin, who birdied three of the last four holes to cap another 67; J.T. Poston, who holed a 30-foot eagle putt at No. 9 in another 67; Austin Eckroat, who had five birdies in a 68; S.H. Kim, who birdied the last four holes on the front nine in another 68, and Taylor Montgomery, who birdied the last hole to salvage a 70.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan birdied the last three holes in a bogey-free 66 and is tied for 25th.

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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