Five Takeaways from Round 3 of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
Only 18 holes remain in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco. The topsy-turvy third round once looked like a runaway but now is anything but. There were plenty of fireworks over the last few holes, including a hole in one by a senior rookie.
Padraig Harrington holds a one-shot lead after leading by six shots earlier in the round. Steve Stricker is in second place and Stewart Cink is three shots behind Harrington and in third place.
Here are five takeaways from another terrific day in Texas.
LAST FEW HOLES WORTH REVISITING
The last two Ryder Cup captains will be face-to-face Sunday during the final round when at one point it looked like the former European captain, Padraig Harrington, was going to march to an easy victory over Steve Stricker, the former American captain.
Harrington started the day with a three-shot lead over Katsumasa Miyamoto but had a five-shot lead over Stricker at the beginning of the day.
When Harrington made birdies on the third, sixth, seventh and eighth holes with a flawless display of golf he was six shots ahead of Stricker and seven ahead of Stewart Cink. Even though Harrington made another birdie at 12, Stricker and Cink made the most of their opportunities when Harrington made a nasty double bogey on the 16th hole when his approach found the penalty area short and right of the green.
Cink birdied No. 10, 15 and 18 and made an ace on 13. Stricker birdied 13, 14, 15 and 18.
What’s bizarre, and perhaps got lost in the shuffle, is that Harrington, coming immediately off the double bogey, stood on the par-3 17th tee and hit the flagstick with his tee shot. He got an unlucky break and the ball bounced back 20 feet from the cup. He two-putted for par, then birdied the last to give himself a one-shot lead.
“I felt like I still had to continue to try to make birdies,” Stricker said about his position midway through Round 3. “And that's a fun position to be in, to try to be aggressive and you really got nothing to lose, you're trying to move your way up the leaderboard.”
The main difference came in putting as Stricker had four less putts – 25 to 29 – and beat Harrington by four shots on the day, 64 to 68.
CINK SINKS ACE
Stewart Cink turned 50 six days ago. On Saturday at the KitchenAid PGA Championship, he recorded a hole-in-one while playing his first career senior event.
The 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including the 2009 Open Championship has his wife Lisa on the bag this week serving as caddie. The duo opted to hit 6-iron on the 191-yard par-3 13th hole and Cink hoisted the ball into the air, it dropped short of the pin, bounced three times and rolled into the middle of the cup.
“I missed it,” he said.
Cink was acknowledging the gallery behind him who told him it was a good shot and he never saw the ball drop. He recorded six aces on the PGA TOUR, the last one coming just over a year ago at the Masters on the 16th hole with his son Reagan serving as his caddie.
It’s the third hole-in-one of the week at PGA Frisco on the third different hole, and comes less than a week after Michael Block, a PGA Professional from California, set the golf world on fire at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill when he dunked an ace during the final round while playing with Rory McIlroy. Aces. They’re everywhere.
DOAN DOING HIS THING
Cameron Doan is one of 11 PGA Professionals to make the cut this week and with 18 holes remaining he is one shot ahead of Mike Brown in the race for low Club Pro. Doan has shot 72-73-72 for a 1-over-par total and is tied for 39th place.
Doan tied for third place at the 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship, which gave him a spot on this year’s Corebridge Financial PGA Team at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
He is the Director of Golf at Preston Trail Golf Club, which is only 25 miles from PGA Frisco, and he was given the honor of hitting the first tee shot Thursday morning during the first round, one that he admitted made him extremely nervous.
Three days later, he’s in position to do something he never even dreamed he’d do – become low PGA Pro.
“To be honest, it didn't start out as a goal. It is one now,” Doan said. “Probably try not to think about that tomorrow and just go play. But it would be an honor to stand on that 18th green with whoever wins this golf tournament. That would be cool.”
DEFENDING CHAMPION HAVING SOLID WEEK
It doesn’t appear like 2022 Senior PGA Champion Steven Alker is going to defend his title but he’s still in seventh place, eight shots back.
Alker has six PGA TOUR Champions wins to his credit, including four last year when he claimed the tour’s Charles Schwab Cup points title. He shot a final-round 63 last year at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., to capture the Senior PGA title. This year he’s won on event.
This week at PGA Frisco started with Alker hosting a Champions Dinner for all past champions in attendance and after 54 holes he’s recorded all three rounds under par, shooting 70-69-69.
The one thing keeping Alker from contending more is as much a surprise to him as it is his playing competitors. Too many bogeys, from the normally tidy Alker.
“Just keep a couple bogeys off the card and I’m hitting the ball pretty good,” he said. “Those few bogeys here and there just annoy me.”
THREE OTHERS TO WATCH
While it’s likely the champion will come out of the last group, the penultimate group is tied for fourth place, seven shots behind Harrington. Robert Karlsson’s week has been more of a rollercoaster than that of both Darren Clarke and Y.E. Yang.
Karlsson has shot 68-73-66, the second round included a triple bogey on the third hole. On Saturday he had no issues and recorded five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
Clarke and Yang have both shot 69-69-69. Yang was even par after making 10 straight pars to open his third round, then made four birdies and a bogey in the next seven holes.
Clarke won the Senior Open Championship last year at Gleneagles. Karlsson and Yang are both looking for their first senior major. Yang won the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.