Mark Hubbard's 'hole in my foot,' Keegan Bradley's FaceTime lesson and a Monday qualifier will make a check
Mark Hubbard plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Back in the fall of 2020, Max Homa’s caddie, Joe Greiner, carried the bag for Mark Hubbard in a couple events. When Hubbard’s brother asked him why he wouldn’t try to get Greiner to caddie full-time for him, he replied, “Look, Max’s ceiling is so freaking high. I know I’m good, but Max has potential to do all this stuff.”
Yet, on Sunday in Jackson, Miss., Hubbard has a chance to do the same “stuff” that Homa did a couple weeks ago when he won the PGA Tour’s 2022-23 season opener at the Fortinet Championship. After a third-round 65 at the Sanderson Farms Championship that got him to 15 under, the 33-year-old Hubbard will take a one-shot lead into the final round as he looks to capture his first PGA Tour win at the Country Club of Jackson.
“I hit my irons great again,” said Hubbard, whose closing birdie was set up by a 207-yard 5-iron that settled inside four feet. “I feel like I actually did a better job with that today in terms of just leaving myself more makeable putts. I’ve been hitting it close all week.”
Through three rounds in Mississippi, Hubbard leads the field in strokes gained/approach and strokes gained/tee-to-green. The quality ball-striking comes after a week in which he was barely able to hit any balls after his 1-year-old daughter accidentally knocked a knife off the counter, stabbing Hubbard in the toe.
“So I had a hole in my foot this whole week, and I didn’t get to practice at all last week, so I was just kind of coming here trying to get ready for Vegas [next week] to be honest,” said Hubbard. Though his toe has healed “better than I thought,” he entered the week with low expectations.
“I didn’t really have expectations because I didn’t really have the week off that I had hoped for,” said Hubbard, who holds his first career 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. “I didn’t get the practice in or necessarily the rest because I was a little under the weather.”
Since turning pro in 2012, Hubbard has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour, recording just five top-10s on the PGA Tour in his career, including a runner-up showing at the 2019 Houston Open.
Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, who won the 2016 RSM Classic for his lone tour win, sits one shot back at 14 under and will join Hubbard in the final pairing on Sunday. Hubbard is three clear of the trio sitting at 12 under—Garrick Higgo, Scott Stallings and Sepp Straka.
Here are a couple other takeaways from Day 3 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Keegan Bradley plays his shot from the 15th tee on Thursday during the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The FaceTime lesson that spurred Keegan Bradley’s third-round 64
Earlier this week, Mississippi native Davis Riley, who grew up and resides in Hattiesburg, said the Sanderson Farms Championship “is my fifth major,” citing his local ties. On Saturday, Keegan Bradley, who shot a bogey-free 64 on Saturday to vault into contention, said that he, too, shares the love for the Magnolia State’s lone PGA Tour stop.
“I do love this course. It’s one of my favorites of the year,” said Bradley, a four-time PGA Tour winner. “There’s not a lot of tricks to it, and the greens are perfect. I absolutely love this place. You can get on a run out here. If you’re hitting the fairways, like I said, there’s a lot of scoring opportunities.”
Yet, over the first two days, Bradley hit less than half of the fairways as he posted modest rounds of 70 and 71. Entering the third round seven shots out of the lead, the 2011 PGA champion made eight birdies on Saturday—including five in a row on Nos. 10-14—and no bogeys to move firmly into contention as he seeks his first win since the 2018 BMW Championship.
“Well, today I hit more fairways,” said Bradley of the difference between his play the first two days compared to Day 3. “If you hit the fairway on this course, every hole you can score on. But the rough is so brutal that you cannot if you don’t.”
Bradley, who finished T-4 here in 2020, attributes the prompt change to a FaceTime lesson with his coach, Darren May. “I had a little session last night with my coach over FaceTime last night after my round … and we got some stuff sorted out,” Bradley said.
On Saturday, the stuff did indeed appear to be sorted out for the Vermont native who is looking for his first top-10 since his T-7 finish at the U.S. Open in June.
Alejandro Tosti of Argentina plays his shot from the fourth tee on Thursday during the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Monday qualifier Alejandro Tosti capitalizing on second PGA Tour start
Alejandro Tosti won’t win the Sanderson Farms Championship, with the 26-year-old Argentine starting Sunday tied for 25th place at seven under. Yet, considering that Tosti, who is making just his second career PGA Tour start, had to Monday qualify to get into the field, simply playing the weekend and cashing a check will be a suitable consolation prize.
On Monday, the former Florida Gator shot 67 and survived a five-for-four playoff to secure a spot in the field. After the playoff birdie putt fell, Tosti struggled to hold back the emotions:
After opening with rounds of 72 and 68 at the C.C. of Jackson, the former All-American made his first cut on the PGA Tour. “To be able to play with the best players in the world and make the cut, it’s very important for my confidence and to know that I can do it, to know I can play at this level,” Tosti told PGATour.com on Friday.
Success on the professional stage hasn’t come as quickly as Tosti may have envisioned after a solid career at Florida, where in 2017 he won the individual title at the SEC Championship. After turning pro in 2018, Tosti had only made one PGA Tour start prior to this week, when he missed the cut at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year.
Since 2019, Tosti has played mostly on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, where he has recorded a couple of wins, including earlier this year in his home country of Argentina. Though his fifth-place finish on the tour’s standings earned him a Korn Ferry Tour card for 2023, the World No. 737 has turned to Monday qualifiers to try to expedite his path to the PGA Tour.
“Being able to play on the PGA Tour, it’s been a dream for me,” Tosti told PGATour.com after Friday’s round. “I started playing golf very young and always dreamed to be a professional golfer, so being able to achieve this, it means a lot to me. I’ve worked so hard all my life and so many sacrifices, next to my family, they’ve done so much for me. Making this work, it’s just amazing. I cannot describe the emotions for that feeling.”