NEW YORK (Reuters) - Webb Simpson was forced to make some room at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Saturday, with a four-way tie for first injecting drama into Sunday’s finale.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion played a solid round with four birdies and a bogey, but it was not enough to fend off Briton Tyrrell Hatton, who had eight birdies on a day of stellar putting to equal Webb’s three-day, 15-under par effort.
“I think I’ve only missed one putt inside six feet in three days,” Hatton told reporters. “Holing out has been really good and been pretty solid from inside 20 feet, which is nice, and I hope that continues tomorrow.”
Rounding out the four-way tie for first were Abraham Ancer and Ryan Palmer, who shot six and five under par respectively, with 11 other golfers all within two strokes of first place heading into the final round.
Daniel Berger, who walked away with the winner’s plaid jacket at last weekend’s Colonial, hit nine birdies for eight under par, sitting one stroke behind first place.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played this consistent for this amount of time,” said Berger. “I feel like I’ve got a great plan in order to get prepared and play well every week.”
The fierce competition on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, showed there was little rust left to shake off as the PGA Tour returned to action last week after a three-month, hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.
American Nick Watney withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19 at the second round on Friday, rattling some golfers on the tour.
World number-one Rory McIlroy, who is five strokes back from first after shooting five under par on Saturday, said “as long as it’s contained” to one case, “we can keep playing.”
“Statistically and looking at the numbers, someone was going to get it, and even being as careful as you can be, things happen, and you pick it up from somewhere,” said the four-time major champion. “We’re still in the middle of a pandemic.”
Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Michael Perry