DUBLIN, Ohio — Billy Horschel’s round of 7-under par 65 was not only the low score of the week, but also has him five shots in front at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday.
The round was his second consecutive bogey-free day, that first time it has happened at the Memorial Tournament in four years. It has been 44 total holes since Horschel drew a square on his scorecard.
“Very pleased with the work Fooch (caddie Mark Fulcher) and I have done, not only today but over the last three days,” Horschel said. “I think just going through our process, making sure we have a number where we’re trying to land the ball, talking about the shot, the club selection, the wind. When we do that, it allows me to have a clearer picture and have a little bit more of a higher acceptance level over the golf shot.
“Fooch and I just had a conversation after Colonial after we missed the cut last week, we were both really ticked off about it, missing the cut, so we said, we just need to get back to what we do best, and if we do that, then it’s giving us the best chance to succeed on every shot.”
Statistically Horschel ranks sixth this week in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, first in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 14th in Strokes Gained: Putting, and 22nd in Strokes: Gained off the Tee.
This shows that Horschel is thinking through his shots and executing the game plan.
“It just goes back to understanding what’s a good golf shot, understanding where you need to miss it on this golf course to have a chance to get up-and-down,” said Horschel. “I’m very aware of everything I’ve done on the golf course, and I just feel very comfortable right now with what we’re doing on the golf course.
“I’m not really worried about score, I’m not really worried about the result of the golf shot, just worried about the process that Fooch and I are trying to do, and I think if we do that well, it allows me to make better swings, and it’s been producing better results.”
Horschel’s day started with a close call on the first hole as he buried a pitch from 44 yards out that caromed into the flag at a fast pace, leaving little margin for error if the shot did not fall.
Instead, it kickstarted a round which saw him hit 10 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.
Horschel is seeking his third win in five attempts when holding a 54-hole lead or co-lead, but his will be Horschel’s first time with a five-stroke advantage entering a final round. That’s one off the tournament record, though he was not shy to admit that this scenario has crept into his head on several different occasions.
How did it go?
“Let’s just say very well,” he stated.
Aaron Wise is one two golfers in second place with an 8-under par total, as he has scored a 69 each of the past two days. Wise hit just eight of 14 fairways, which tied him for 51st among the 70 players remaining in the field.
“Felt like about as good as I could shoot with how I drove the ball, so I’m super pleased with it,” said Wise. “The course is firming up. It’s playing tricky. I felt like I hit my irons great, chipped and putted great. The one thing I could clean up is how I drove the ball today.”
Cameron Smith entered Saturday’s play atop the leaderboard, but missed the first fairway, which led to a bogey, a number he would match one hole later.
It was clear that Smith’s game was not in top form this round as he battled to an even-par 72, to find himself five shots behind the lead.
“There was lots of not-so-good stuff out there today, and just stuck in there,” Smith said. “Managed to have a couple of birdies on that back nine, and just nice to get away with level par and keep myself in the tournament. I think especially today it could have got away from me a little bit.
“Golf is a crazy game. You’ve got to try and get as much out of it as you can. I feel as though my good is really good, and my bad is getting better. I’ve just got to keep hanging in there. I really have to go out there tomorrow and have to hit it better. Today was pretty unacceptable to be honest.”
Daniel Berger is in a group of three an additional shot back, following a round of 5-under 67. Berger’s game is starting to round into form after dealing with a lower-back issue that has dated back to February, that caused him to miss several tournaments, not having played a round from the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head in mid-April to the PGA Championship.
“I made a lot of putts on the front nine and then had a bunch of really good looks on the back nine and hit some good putts that didn’t go in, but the first couple days I hit a lot of good putts,” he said. “I’ve got to play seven or eight consecutive rounds in a row, and just kind of building some momentum and getting back to where I was before that. I’m definitely trending in the right direction.”
Early on, Denny McCarthy appeared to be the sole golfer ready to battle Horschel as he birdied two of his first four holes, but then his round grew stagnant with bogeys on 8, 10 and 13. Even so, McCarthy is tied for seventh place at 6 under.
In each of the last two weeks, the winner has come from seven shots behind, meaning McCarthy, Patrick Cantlay, Luke List, Joaquin Niemann and Davis Riley all are within range to accomplish the feat once again.
THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT PRESENTED BY WORKDAY
THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD
- Billy Horschel -13
T2. Cameron Smith -8
T2. Aaron Wise -8
T4. Daniel Berger -7
T4. Francesco Molinari -7
T4. Jhonattan Vegas -7
T7. Patrick Cantlay -6
T7. Luke List -6
T7. Denny McCarthy -6
T7. Joaquin Niemann -6
T7. Davis Riley -6