The Fresh Coat - March 12
Bill Haas, seeking his seventh win on the PGA TOUR, takes a one-shot lead into Sunday after firing a 3-under-par 68 in the third round for a 54-hole score of 8-under-par 205. Haas, the son of longtime pro Jay Haas who played in 14 JCPenney Classics, was the 2011 FedExCup champion and has been part of the last three Presidents Cup competitions. His best previous finish at the Valspar Championship was 14th in 2014.
“Eight under par through three days is Majoresque scoring, that’s what great golf courses do,” said Haas of the Copperhead Course. “I think we all wish we played more courses like this.” One of three leaders after 36 holes, he is the only player to reach 8-under in the tournament and at one point held a three-shot lead.
DeLaet is a Canadian from the plains of Saskatchewan who is seeking his first PGA TOUR victory after three runner-up finishes since 2013. Like Haas, he did not play in the Valspar Championship last year, after finishing 8th in 2014.
While Haas and DeLaet, who tee off in the final group at 1:50 Sunday, forged a bit of a margin on the field, there are 16 other competitors within six shots of the lead.
Also in the mix are three players who figured prominently in last year’s drama. Ryan Moore, last year’s third round leader, is tied for third with Charley Hoffman at -5.
Patrick Reed, who was in the 2015 three-way playoff with Jordan Spieth and Sean O’Hair, is among three players at -4. Veteran Steve Stricker and Charles Howell III are the other two and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is at -3.
Defending championship Jordan Spieth is in the group of nine at -2. The world’s top-ranked golfer shot a 67 on Saturday that was highlighted by and eagle at the par-5 14th. He will be paired in a 1:10 tee time with the field’s lone amateur, Lee McCoy who grew up less than a mile from Innisbrook. McCoy shot Saturday’s low round, a 66.
All three of the OWGR top 10 who are in the field have done well, as OWGR #7 Henrik Stenson is also in the group at-2.
COPPERHEAD BITES: Every previous Valspar Championship has had at least one round of 65, but there have been none so far in 2016…Retief Goosen and Charles Howell III are currently in the top 20. If they maintain that position, they would tie Jonathan Byrd’s record of six finishes in the top 10 in the Valspar…Goosen can also join K.J. Choi and Luke Donald with a record-tying fourth top 10 finish…With a current average score of 72.67, this year’s tournament currently stands as the second highest-scoring Valspar Championship behind the 2008 event.