They have three rounds in for the FedEx St. Jude Classic and it looks like Sunday will be taut: there are nine guys within one stroke of each other and if you add 10th place, J.B. Holmes, ten guys within two strokes of the lead.
Aside from uniformly good play, the reason this bunching is occurring is that the golf course is intentionally set up difficult as a good warmup for next week’s U.S. Open. On top of that, it’s only a par 70 with just two par 5s. So you don’t have a situation where guys are going low because they’re routinely making birdies and eagles on the par 5s. The lowest scores of the day were two, 4-under 66s and eight 3-unders. Not a lot of big movement.
The three leaders, Nick O’Hearn, Davis Love III and John Merrick are only at 6-under. O’Hearn is an Aussie who’s yet to win, Davis Love is this year’s Ryder Cup captain and looking for an excuse to pick himself to play and John Merrick also hasn’t won yet.
The six guys at 5-under include Dustin Johnson, Robert Allenby and Rory McIlroy. Johnson is coming back from a back injury trying to play his way back into form. Robert Allenby caught my eye when I first saw him on the list of the field; one of the best ball-strikers on Tour, he’s won four times is spite of his poor putting (178th with a -.744 in Strokes Gained – Putting). And most particularly, World No. 2, McIlroy is trying to overcome three missed cuts in a row with a good showing here. But his third round was an up-and-down 2-over with 6 bogeys and 4 birdies, one of them coming on 18.
And finally, in 10th place we have J.B. Holmes who is trying to complete his comeback from brain surgery last year. He’s managed two T8s, one at Riviera and the other in Houston, but he would dearly love to finally put a bow on his effort.
So there you have it. Ten reasons to watch Sunday’s broadcast. It’ll be tape-delayed due to expected thunderstorms. They’re playing in threesomes and going off early from one and ten in case there are delays.
So fire up the popcorn, it should be fascinating.