Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 Humana Challenge: Stallings Surges Ahead

Three rounds are in the books in the first PGA Tournament on the mainland.  The past three days have been filled with low rounds aplenty and great play all around.  The three courses have been bathed in brilliant sunshine and pristine conditions in Palm Springs as the best players in the world visited La Quinta Resort for the 2013 Humana Challenge.

Play on the La Quinta Country Club and Nicklaus Private courses is done for the week; the Palmer Private course will host the final round tomorrow.  Players have completed a round on each of the three courses and the cut is now made.  Scott Stallings, a winner on tour in each of his first two seasons, is in front by five shots heading into the final round.  Stallings matched the low round of the tournament in the third round with a 63 on the Palmer Private course, thought to be the toughest of the three in the rotation.  Rounds of 66 and 65 in the first and second rounds, respectively, have Stallings at 22-under par for the tournament. 

Sitting five strokes back of the leader is a group of players lead by Stewart Cink and Charles Howell III.  Cink is looking to get his game back on track, having dropped to near 300 in the Official World Golf Ranking since winning his only major, The Open Championship.  Howell, on the other hand, has continued strong play from last week into this week, firing 67, 65, and 67 in his first three rounds.  Howell is looking for his first win in a while.  Also tied for second place at 17-under par are Roberto Castro, John Rollins, and Charley Hoffmann.

Eight players are in a tie for 7th at 16-under par.  They include Sang-Moon Bae, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Kevin Stadler, Brian Gay, Ryan Palmer, Billy Horschel, and Lee Williams. 

Last week's winner Russell Henley struggled early in his round, carding a quadruple bogey 8 at hole 18, which was his ninth hole on the day.  Henley recovered nicely on his second nine, and ended up shooting a one-over par 71 to finish the third round at 12-under par.  Phil Mickelson, playing in his first tournament of the season, shot a 66 to make the cut at 11-under par. 

The cut for the tournament was 10-under par, one of the lowest cuts on tour each and every year.  Tomorrow should be more of the same conditions as the field looks to catch Stallings and deny him his third tour win.

Other notable scores:

Zach Johnson: -14
Brandt Snedeker: -14
Matt Kuchar: -13
Bud Cauley: -11
Tim Clark: Cut
Bill Haas: Cut
Ben Crane: Cut
Ryo Ishikawa: Cut

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