Well, it will be a final pairing filled with Presidents Cup staples. No, not from the United States team, but rather from the International squadron. South African’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s round of alternate shot. They were one of six teams to shoot a round of 9-under 63 and sit at 19-under for the tournament.
One-stroke behind at 18-under are the mullet-loving Australians of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman. After a disappointing Round 1 from Leishman, he admitted that he would need to play better moving forward and today he did just that. Leishman was responsible for five of the team’s nine birdies, a vast improvement from his Thursday performance. This led to the duo carding their second round of 63 in the best-ball format.
As for the overnight leaders, both had their struggles, but both are far from out of this tournament. Team Send-It sits at 18-under after a round of 5-under 67. Tony Finau must have felt like he was on an island for most of the day, as his teammate Cameron Champ struggled mightily. Champ was responsible for a single birdie and four water balls, a less than ideal combination. If that continues tomorrow, I’d imagine they’ll be cut from television coverage rather early.
Team Norway on the other hand struggled on the greens. After looking completely out of sync for most of the day, the former Oklahoma State Cowboys finally got some putts to fall on the final two holes. Kris Ventura followed up a birdie on the difficult par-3 17th with another one on the reachable par-5 18th. Despite their struggles, they are only two-stokes back of the lead and are right in the thick of things.
With so many teams with a realistic chance to win, I believe the eventual champions will need to shoot a round in the mid-60’s. That may be a lot to ask for in alternate shot, but I have a hard time envisioning a team limping their way into the winner’s circle.
When it comes to our in-tournament selections, there has been some good and some ugly. Our Round 2 play of Max Homa and Talor Gooch is as good as gone. The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook currently have them listed at +50000 after a disappointing Round 3. However, our Round 3 selection of Tom Lewis and Thomas Pieters could not have gone better. The two shot a tidy 9-under 63 on Saturday and are just outside the top-5. Let’s hope we can add a similar selection heading into the final round.
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Updated Odds (via PointsBet):
According to the oddsmakers, this tournament is down to a five-team race. If that is in fact true, I am more than okay sitting this one out as I don’t love the idea of chasing an outright at such short odds. Instead, I’ll be looking at a play that is similar to our Round 3 play of Pieters and Lewis. This time, I’ll be targeting the team of Stenson and Rose.
There’s no beating around the bush, the third round was ugly. Neither Stenson nor Rose struck the ball well and a score of 2-under 70 was the result. For reference, this ended up being the highest round of the day. But, sitting at T-19 and only two-strokes back of the top-10, I expect the tandem to bounce back in a big way.
The European Ryder Cup stalwarts have been on record saying that they much prefer alternate shot. It’s hard to argue with them considering their Round 2 score in alternate shot was two-strokes better than their Round 3 score in best-ball. While today’s play may be a cause for concern, I’ll happily back the wily veterans heading into their preferred format.
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