4-way tie for lead at Heritage as another wild finish looms

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - The return of the PGA Tour to the competition has brought together the strongest fields of the year on courses that have not been overly punished, and the result is the same.
It is another free event at RBC Heritage.
Webb Simpson practically had to apologize for a 3-under-68 where he only managed a birdie on the back nine. He was part of a four-way tie for leadership, and that was good enough for him. He also knows that Harbor Town is probably not doing well on Sunday.
"It's not like I have a three or four-shot lead and I could shoot a couple below," he said. '' It'll take a good one. ''
Tyrrell Hatton had one of six laps at 63, which gave the 28-year-old from England a share of the lead when he was aiming for his second consecutive win despite being three months apart due to the shutdown of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Abraham Ancer, so solid with his irons, had a 65 and went to the top along with Ryan Palmer, who had a 66.
They were below 198 at 15, a number that didn't even begin to explain the low score.
Even if Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele stuttered to 75 s, the field was 223 under par, the lowest since the beginning of RBC Heritage in 1969. There were 35 players with 10 under or better compared to just one player (Dustin Johnson) ) a year ago. The previous mark was seven players with double digits under par through 54 holes.
The most meaningful were the options on Sunday.
There were 21 players who were separated by only three shots into the final round. A week ago Colonial had 14 players separated by three shots.
"I think the fields were extremely strong," said Ancer. '' Everyone out here wanted to get out and play. The greens are a bit soft, especially this week, and the ball doesn't roll out as much as you're used to on the greens and fairways. That will certainly produce a little more birdies. ''
Carlos Ortiz, who started this tournament with just two double bogies after playing only five holes, suddenly has the chance to claim his first PGA Tour win after two eagles in a round of 63. He was with colonial winner Daniel Berger and a shot behind him Joel Dahmen, both at 63.
And there were more tests than usual.
Players and caddies on the charter flight to Connecticut for next week's event had to do a saliva test for the coronavirus on Saturday before getting on the plane. Eleven others had tests Friday night because they were in close contact with Nick Watney, whose positive test on Friday was the first when golf returned.
Among them was Sergio Garcia, who was flying from Austin, Texas with Watney. The first test was negative. Garcia was nervous as he waited for the result, although he wasn't so nervous that he couldn't put 65 to join the chase. He was two shots behind him, along with Ian Poulter and Joaquin Niemann.
Bryson DeChambeau, who started the day a shot behind, approached the par-5 second in the trees and it never came down. He added 40 pounds of mass, still not enough to uproot the tree and shake it off. This resulted in a bogey, and no birdies on the back nine for a 70 were more harmful.
Still, he stayed three shots behind in a group that included Johnson, who screwed three of his last four holes to get from the center of the field to 12 under 201, three shots behind him and a lot in the picture. That's all it took on Saturday, and it's unlikely to be any different in the final.
Brooks Koepka quietly posted a 68 and was three shots behind in the group.
Chalk it up to June, a new date for the RBC legacy because of the pandemic. The tournament usually takes place the week after the Masters in April when the temperature is a bit cooler, the greens are firmer and the rye grass has not been taken over by Bermuda. It’s soft. And these are the best players in the world, all eager to get going again.
"Because we weren't at a large championship-style golf course last week or this week that separated you for poor results, I think that's probably why," said Simpson when asked to explain the bundle of results .
Maybe that explains why Justin Thomas called it "the worst 66 I've ever made in my life".
Hatton has won in a row in very different circumstances in his career. In 2017 he won in consecutive weeks in Scotland and Italy. Now he's going two consecutive three-month intervals after winning at Bay Hill in March before the pandemic stopped.
It was apparently not long enough for anyone to build up a rush.
"I think we all had enough time to prepare to play tournaments again," said Hatton, who had rented a home in Orlando, Florida during the mandate to stay at home. "So it is not very surprising that the boys play as well as they are, and hopefully the boys enjoy it at home when they watch TV."

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