Defending champion Tom Kim of South Korea is on top of the leaderboard again, but this time he has some company.
The 21-year-old Kim (pictured) sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole to cap a brilliant, 9-under-par 62 and is tied for the lead with Adam Hadwin of and Lanto Griffin heading the final round of the 41st Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” said Kim, who by winning last year became the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 21. “Just the vibe, feeling like you won this event last year, and I feel like because you won, you have the positive vibes and you kind of relive that winning moment. … Just to be able to come back — especially now near the top of the leaderboard, I have a chance on Sunday.
“You know, from tee to green, I was really solid. I gave myself a lot of good looks at birdie. Obviously, you’ve got to finish them off, and that’s exactly what I did. I putted great today. I left myself in some tough spots, but I think that up-and-down on No. 12 really kind of got it going. Then hit a really good tee shot on No. 13 and made a really good putt for birdie.
“It’s just those little things that kind of kept the momentum going. I just felt really comfortable over the ball. That was the biggest thing. I wasn’t rushing anything. I wasn’t trying to force anything. I was just really calm, and yeah, it was just a great day.”
Kim, who has won 11 times as a pro including the 2022 Wyndham Championship for his first victory on the PGA Tour, hit his second shot from 244 yards to within 15 inches on the ninth hole and added nine birdies against two bogeys to record a 54-hole score of 15-under-par 198.
Hadwin equaled that by making four birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 63, while Griffin, who held a share of the 36-hole lead, started with 12 consecutive birdies before scoring three birdies down the stretch in a bogey-free 68.
“It was a little frustrating not making a birdie until No. 13 on a course that everybody is going low on and making birdies on, and it’s nice to get a couple early, kind of settle yourself down, but that didn’t happen today,” said Griffin, who has five pro victories, including the 2019 Houston Open on the PGA Tour. But making only pars isn’t the end of the world, either.
“I hit the irons a lot better today, especially on the front nine, but I just made nothing. I know we’ve been talking the last few days about making everything. That’s kind of how it goes sometimes. I had a little regression today, but nothing too bad with the putter. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, but they just didn’t drop. We’ll clean that up a little bit before tomorrow.”
Said Hadwin, who has 12 victories as a pro but only the 2017 Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour: “I mean, everything was going well. I think everything has to work well for you to shoot eight-under par. Yeah, I continued to strike the ball very well, both off the tee and into the greens. I had a lot of good opportunities today. I made a few more putts than I had the previous couple days.
“I mean, (winning the Valspar) is always going to be a highlight of my career and one of the best moments that I’ve had. My first win on the PGA Tour was pretty special. Obviously, not being able to close in the last six years has been disappointing. So, I’m looking forward to having a chance to win a golf tournament tomorrow.”
Taylor Pendrith of Canada, who has won twice on the PGA Tour Canada but has yet to claim a victory on the top tour, collected five of his seven birdies on the back nine of a 65 and is one stroke behind in a tie for fourth with Vince Whaley who also had five birdies in a 65 as he seeks his first pro victory, and K.H. Lee of South Korea, who hits his second shot to within nine inches for an eagle at No. 16 in a bogey-free 66.
J.T. Poston was tied for the lead before hitting two balls into the water while making a triple-bogey 8 on the 16th hole, and his 68 with birdie at No. 9 left him two shots down in a tie for seventh with Callen Tarren of England, who sank a 10-foot eagle putt in a 62 that included eight birdies; Isaiah Salinda, who collected birdies before his lone bogey at No. 18 in a 63, and Adam Svensson of Canada, who made a 19-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole and added five birdies in a 65.
Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita, who led after a first-round 62, bounced back from a 71 by carding a bogey-free 68, while second-round co-leader Cameron Champ of Sacramento made a triple-bogey seven on the third hole while struggling to a 74 and is tied for 24th.
For complete results and final-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard