With the second (67.816) and third (67.711) rounds setting new low scoring average records at the Plantation Course since 1999, Rahm and Smith stopped short of calling it a two-horse race on Sunday. But they know they have the chance to make it one.
Jon Rahm, statements
“We had a fun battle today and I’m guessing tomorrow’s going to be more of the same. We’re going to need a lot of birdies to get ahead and get the win,” Rahm said.
“If we get a similar day someone can come and shoot 10, 11, 12-under… What I have to keep doing is just keep hitting it as well as I am tee to green. Keep putting it in the fairway and keep hitting good iron shots, give myself plenty of looks, and some of them will go in”.
In Friday’s second round, Rahm struggled with the speed of the greens and made just 48 feet, 4 inches of putts. On Saturday he led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on the way to 132-feet, 10 inches worth. He also dialed in his approach play, gaining over three strokes on the field.
“I only left one short and I couldn’t believe it stayed short,” he said. “It all started on 2. I made that putt, I made that putt on 4, and it gave me a lot of confidence and I kept going, made a couple of those putts that yesterday I left short and it gave me so much confidence.
“But a number of those birdie/eagles were very short putts so it also speaks to the ball striking I had today.”
Smith is chasing the Hawaii double having won the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2020. He has now held the lead, or a share of it, over the first three rounds. He is also seeking to be the third Australian to win at Kapalua after Stuart Appleby won three straight in 2004-06 and Geoff Ogilvy went back-to-back in 2009-10.
“Hawaii reminds me so much of where I grew up, it’s insane. The grass that we hit off, the greens being quite slow and grainy. Yeah, it’s awesome, I love it here,” he said.
“I know it will be a challenge tomorrow but I’m looking forward to it. We all want to win and you have to beat the best to do that on the PGA TOUR so it’s nothing to shy away from.”