Nothing much went according to form in Saturday’s third round of the Web.com Tour’s Rust-Oleum Championship at Ivanhoe Club, and it’ll be much the same on Sunday – at least at the start of the final round.
The probability of inclement weather led tournament organizers to schedule play in threesomes off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. Rounds will start between 8 and 10 a.m. as opposed to the usual starts off No. 1 and the 54-hole leaders beginning their rounds at mid-day.
“It’ll be fine,’’ insisted Kyle Jones, who took over the tournament lead from playing partner Maverick McNealy. “It’ll be nice getting done at a good time.’’
The trophy presentation, as well as the awarding of the $108,000 first place check is planned for 3 p.m., and Jones isn’t the only one with a chance. Jones, at 15-under-par 201 after his 68 on Saturday, is one swing ahead of Christian Bland and two ahead of both Justin Lower and Chase Wright.
If any of those four win on Sunday it’ll be a surprise. Jones, who played collegiately at Baylor, is 67th on the Web.com Tour money list. Brand is 124th, Lower is 50th and Wright 35th. None are near the top 25, the dividing line to determine who secures spots on the PGA Tour in 2019, but a strong finish on Sunday could change that.
Jones was in the final pairing in Round 3 with 36-hole front-runner McNealy, the former collegiate hotshot for Stanford. After shooting 64 in the second round McNealy shot 73 in the third and enters the final round in a tie for ninth.
The names at the top of the leaderboard were also reflective of what happened to the four local hopefuls. None of them improved their position from the second to the third round. Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger dropped 12 places, into a tie for 16th. Nick Hardy fell 18 spots , into a tie for 40th. Scott Langley, the former NCAA champion from Illinois who is No. 2 on the Web.com money list, fell 14 places to a tie for 51st and Deerfield’s Vince India dropped 13 places into a tie for 65th.
Still, all four could improve enough to claim a good paycheck on Sunday based on the wild leaderboard changes on Saturdays.
Jones, who doesn’t even have a top-20 on the PGA’s alternate circuit this year, is holding the 54-hole lead for the first time.
“I’m excited, but I’ll try not to think about it too much because it might get into my head,’’ said Jones. He’ll be paired with Brand and Lower in the final threesome off the No. 1 tee. Brand and Lower are frequent practice partners who travel from tournament to tournament together.
“We’re in separate hotels this week, but he’s one of my best friends out here,’’ said Brand. “The secret to finding a good road trip buddy is not wanting to strangle each other, and he’s easy to get along with. We’ll have fun, but he wants to beat me more than anybody else on tour. We have our money games on Tuesdays, and there’s a lot of good trash-talking going on.’’
Saturday’s play did produce some low scores. Ryan Yip, a Canadian who played collegiately at Kent State, was low man with an 8-under-par 64. Brand carded a 65 as did Bill Kennerly, who is tied for fifth with Yip.
“It was a great day,’’ said Brand. “Ivanhoe played great, and the sun came out for us. When I woke up I wasn’t sure that would happen, but the course is in phenomenal shape.’’
Brand had one semi-miraculous shot. He hooked his drive into the trees at No. 10 but hooked a 7-iron second shot from 200 yards to 10 feet of the cup and proceeded to roll in the birdie putt.
Yip had one, too – a holed out bunker shot for birdie at No. 14.
“I had one foot in the bunker and one out, and I was falling backwards,’’ said Yip. “I was just trying to get the ball on the green.’’