DUBLIN, Ohio — Heading into Sunday’s final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, it truly feels as though it could be anyone’s event to win as 31 players are within four shots of the lead.
That lead is currently shared by Rory McIlroy, Si Woo Kim and David Lipsky at 6-under par, two shots worse than Justin Suh’s 36-hole score.
McIlroy finished first of those in the lead and buried a nine-foot par putt on the 18th hole, offering an emphatic fist pump after the effort.
“I felt like I have hit the ball pretty well this week,” McIlroy said. “The big thing for me around here with how penal it is off the tee is just getting the ball in play.
“So throttling back, hitting a lot of 3-woods, irons off tees, and using the driver sort of sporadically. That’s been the game plan and that’s what’s really worked over the last three days.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 3, 2023
McIlroy’s game is still not at full strength, though he has won before without playing at top form. He currently has 23 PGA Tour victories, though none have come at the Memorial. His best finish at this tournament came in 2016 when he tied for fourth place.
Come Sunday, McIlroy is in a prime position to shake Jack Nicklaus’s hand after the 72nd hole.
“It would mean a ton to me to win this tournament,” stated McIlroy. “I’ve played pretty well here over the years without really having a realistic chance to win. So to be able to walk up that hill from 18 and get that handshake from Jack would be pretty nice.
“I won Arnold’s tournament a few years ago, but he had already passed by the time, so it would be so nice to be able to do it and have Jack be there.”
Kim will be seeking his second victory of the season (Sony Open) and fifth in his career. He posted a 1-under par round.
“I think hit a lot of fairways and then I hit a lot of greens,” he said. “I think that’s the happiest part. I played all right yesterday, but I didn’t drop (many putts). Today’s way better, like 10 to 20 feet. I think that’s the game change.”
Lipsky started quickly with a birdie but got stuck in neutral as 2014 champion Hideki Matsuyama took a three-shot advantage.
When Matsuyama’s game unraveled between missed short putts, a water ball on the 12th hole and other costly miscues, the advantage evaporated. He would finish at 4 under.
Lipsky turned the tides and when he stuck his tee shot on the 12th hole to three feet; his kick-in birdie gave him a three-shot lead. If he were to win, Lipsky would be the first player outside of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking to earn the Nicklaus handshake since Jason Dufner in 2017.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 3, 2023
As many would do coming in, Lipsky would flinch. Though he parred the 16th hole, bogeys on 17 and 18 removed him from the final group.
“The afternoon’s definitely tough,” opined Lipsky. “The wind was swirling a little bit, rough’s still heavy. That’s not going anywhere. Greens firmed up and got quick. So, yeah, it wasn’t easy out there.
“I had a tough finish, but I made a lot of birdies, a lot of nice putts in between then, and I have a lot of things to lean on going into tomorrow.”
A quintet of players is a shot behind: Viktor Hovland, Wyndham Clark, Lee Hodges, Mark Hubbard and Denny McCarthy
Hovland has won three times on the PGA Tour, most recently in 2022 at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. The Norwegian is ranked seventh in the Official World Golf Rankings.
“It felt like I hit it a little bit better today than I had the first couple of days,” Hovland determined. “Just a little disappointed with some of the short-game shots that I hit today, but after the finish that I had, going 3-under the last four, that was awesome.”
Hubbard was an alternate coming into the week and his best finish was a tie for second place at the 2019 Houston Open.
“Obviously I’m not happy with my finish again, but at the same time, I made three pretty good bogey putts coming in that I could have easily let one slip,” asserted Hubbard. “I think if you can keep the doubles and big mistakes off your scorecard. It’s just kind of keeping your head on straight and playing disciplined.”
McCarthy recorded two eagles in his third round, the second time it has been done both in his career and this week.
“Teeing off today I felt really good,” McCarthy offered. “I had a really good range session. I felt just in a really nice positive mood. To pick up four shots like that on the par 5s is massive. I didn’t think I was out of the tournament.
“The eagle on 7 kind of gave me a nice little boost and just fought really hard on the back nine, seeing the greens really well, just trusting my lines, hit them, moved on. It worked out pretty well for me.”
Clark got his round going with two birdies before the turn and then recorded another on the 11th hole. He would promptly give one of those circles back on the 12th hole, before one last birdie on the 14th hole, after which he parred the rest of the way in.
Much like Matsuyama did Friday, Keegan Bradley set the tone early. He made the cut on the number and shot a 7-under par 65, leading another quintet, this one two shots off the leaderboard.
“Well, I basically made every putt I looked at today,” said Bradley. “I’ve been working on this feel the past couple weeks and I’ve sort of left it on the range and tried to play. Then today I just said ‘screw it’ and I went out there and I had this — the feel that I’ve been working on, and I just hit a lot, a lot more quality iron shots.”
Final round tee times begin at 7:55 a.m. and the top two players in the world — Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler — will tee off together at 10:55. McIlroy and Kim will comprise the final pairing at 1:35.
THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD
T1. Si Woo Kim -6
T1. David Lipsky -6
T1. Rory McIlroy -6
T4. Wyndham Clark -5
T4. Lee Hodges -5
T4. Viktor Hovland -5
T4. Mark Hubbard -5
T9. Keegan Bradley -4
T9. Patrick Cantlay -4
T9. Hideki Matsuyama -4
T9. Collin Morikawa -4
T9. Patrick Rodgers -4