Aussie Cameron Davis can keep Sanderson Farms first-timer streak alive and three other takeaways from Round 3
Cameron Davis reacts after missing a putt on the sixth green during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The Sanderson Farms Championship has been a beacon of hope for the winless on the PGA Tour—in each of the last six years a first-time champion has been crowned at the event.
That could change on Sunday with veterans like Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and Charley Hoffman all in contention on what is a crowded leader board in Mississippi.
Here are our four takeaways from Round 3 at the Country Club of Jackson.
Third round’s a charm for Davis
Cameron Davis is one of those players looking to add his name to the list of first-time winners at the Sanderson Farms. Though he’s won before, on the Australasian and Korn Ferry tours, the 25-year-old Aussie has yet to do so on the game’s biggest tour.
After a career-best 63 that included birdies on each of his first five holes on Saturday, however, he’s in position to do just that as he sits atop the leader board with Garcia.
It was also a 10-shot turnaround from the day before. What was the difference?
“First two rounds I was trying a few different things with the driver,” he said. “I was kind of trying to find three different sort of ball flights that I could use; a bigger drive, a standard drive and a lower sort of safe drive. I didn't really get a good enough feel with any of them, so [Friday] afternoon I just kind of tried to groove my nice consistent sort of stock driver and just took that out there today and used that all day.”
Now the question is can he keep that feeling going in the pressure of the final round?
Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the 13th tee during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
It’s not all blind luck for Sergio
Sergio Garcia putting with his eyes closed is clearly working—for the third straight day he was on the positive side of the ledger in strokes gained/putting after being negative in the stat in every start once the tour resumed its 2019-‘20 season in June, while finishing that season ranked 187th on tour.
But other elements of his game have carried him this week, too. Saturday, Garcia, always one of the game’s best drivers and iron players, showed off those skills plenty in shooting six-under 66, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation on his way to grabbing a share of the lead at 14 under.
And it wasn’t just that he was hitting greens as much as it was how close he was hitting it to the flag. Of the half-dozen birdies that Garcia poured in on Saturday, the longest of them came from just outside 15 feet. You don’t need to be a great putter when you’re hitting your irons close.
What was Garcia most pleased with? Simple.
“Everything,” he said. “I think my attitude was great. I think the way I committed to pretty much every shot I hit and pretty much every putt I hit was very good, and I'm very proud of that.”
Snedeker as excited as he’s been in ‘years'
It’s been a tough year for Brandt Snedeker, who so far in 2020 has eight missed cuts—his highest total in five years—in just 15 starts.
So, of course, he finds himself just a stroke off the lead heading into the final round after a five-under 67 on Saturday.
Why the turnaround?
“Everybody who loves golf and plays golf recreationally and pros, we're no different,” Snedeker said. "We're always one swing away from feeling like we're the best player in the world and we're always on another stretch feeling like we should find another job. We're no different than anybody else.”
Keegan Bradley chips on the seventh hole during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Narrator: Yes, they are. But the 39-year-old, nine-time PGA Tour winner has been on tour long enough to know that sometimes golf is about hanging around as much as anything else. Snedeker has done that this week. After going out in a ho-hum one under, he rattled off four birdies over his final six holes with a couple of long putts, a deft pitch and a perfect wedge.
“Probably as excited and confident as I've been about my golf game in a long time,” Snedeker said. “I'm talking years.”
Understandable. It’s been two years since Snedeker last won, with his victory at the 2018 Wyndham Championship as his lone title since 2016.
Keegan’s putter runs out of juice
The first two rounds at Country Club of Jackson, it was like Keegan Bradley couldn’t miss. He made over 200 feet of putts and had a whopping strokes gained/putting mark of 6.63, combined.
Then there was Saturday.
Bradley had three bogeys and an eagle on his way to a 73. It was the worst score of any player in the top 30.
Unlike the first two rounds, the 34-year-old’s putter didn’t bail him out this time. He made just two putts outside of 3 feet all day. One of those was a 30-footer to save par on the sixth, and the other was from 15 feet on the par-5 11th.