Taylor Leads Theegala by One Stroke in Rain-Delayed 72nd WM Phoenix Open

Nick Taylor of Canada has a history of making long putts, and he did it again.

Taylor (pictured)67, who sank a 72-foot eagle putt to win the 2023 RBC Canadian Open, rolled in a 48-footer to take one-stroke lead over Sahith Theegala before darkness halted play for the third straight day in the rain-delayed 72nd WM Phoenix on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.

All 73 players who made the 36-hole cut earlier on Saturday will return on Sunday morning to complete the third round and hopefully will  be able to complete the final round and avoid a Monday finish.

“I feel like I just have good vibes here after last year,” said Taylor, who finished second in the WM Phoenix Open last season. “I played great last year and just got beat, I felt like. I wasn’t probably expecting to shoot a 60 or something crazy low the first day, but I figure I have good energy here now, and a lot of years in a row I didn’t.

“I wouldn’t say it’s unfinished business after last year, but I’m definitely in good position to try to finish it off.”

Taylor, who was tied for the lead after starting 60-70, tying the course record in round one, was a total of 13-under-par after five holes in round three, while second-round leader Theegala was 12-under after starting 65-64 and being one-over-par through six holes in round three.

“After the first few holes, we finally got scoreable conditions,” said Theegala, of Chino Hills and Pepperdine. “No wind, soft greens, which is rare out here.”

Doug Ghim, who started 65-68, made two birdies in his first seven holes in round three and at 11-under-par was in a tie for third with Andrew Novak, who opened with 65-65 but was one-over-par through five holes in the third round.

Jordan Spieth, after shooting 68-66, was two-under-par through 10 holes in round three and lone in fifth at 10-under, while Charley Hoffman of Poway started 67-68 and was two-under though nine hole and tied for sixth with Harris English (71-67, 5-under through 15), Davis Thompson (69-67, three-under through 10), and Cameron Young (67-67, one-under through nine holes.

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the two-time defending champion who opened with 68-66, was even-par through seven holes and eight-under overall, which put him in a big tie for 10th with sixth-ranked Wyndham Clark (72-65, three-under through 12), Justin Thomas (69-65, even-par through eight), Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley and Stanford (65-67, even-par though seven), Kurt Kitayama of Chico (68-67, one-under through nine), Sam Burns (68-67, one-under through nine), Si Woo Kim of South Korea (68-68, two-under through 10), Billy Horschel (72-67, five-under through 14), and Jake Knapp (68-68, two-under through 10.

Ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England started with 69-66 and was one-over par through 10 holes in round three, putting him in a tie for 23rd, while 10th-ranked Brian Harman, who opened with 71-69, was one-under after nine holes in round three and is a tie for 48th at three-under.

Eighth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal shot 73-69—142 and missed the cut by two strokes.   

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