Jones atop Honda after Smart blows 6-shot lead

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Aaron Smart had a six-shot lead in the course of the third spherical of The Honda Basic, trying poised to show the match right into a rout.

Every thing went incorrect from there, and Matt Jones took full benefit.

Jones, a 40-year-old Australian, dealt with the wind at PGA Nationwide to shoot a 1-under 69 on Saturday, going to 10 underneath for the match and shifting three pictures away from Smart and J.B. Holmes.

“I am blissful to go low with the ball flight and I am in all probability a bit of extra conservative when the wind is up,” Jones stated. “I am going to in all probability play a bit of safer than regular. I am naturally a really aggressive participant. However I feel within the wind, I tend to handle the golf course otherwise.”

Smart performed his ultimate 13 holes in 7 over, capped by hitting his tee shot right into a quagmire of weeds and muck on the 18th for what turned one other bogey to cap a spherical of 75. Holmes (67) broke par for his third consecutive spherical.

“There actually wasn’t something I actually struggled with as we speak,” Holmes stated. “I hit the whole lot fairly strong. So, it was only a actually good day for me.”

C.T. Pan had a bogey-free 65 — the low spherical of the day — to get to six underneath, together with Cameron Tringale (69) and Sam Ryder (72). Defending champion Sungjae Im (69) was 5 underneath, tied with Keegan Bradley (67), Robert Streb (70), Zach Johnson (70), Brice Garnett (70) and Stewart Cink (70).

Historical past says they’re all nonetheless within the combine. Solely two of the final seven 54-hole leaders on the Honda — Adam Scott in 2016 and Rickie Fowler in 2017 — have gone on to win. Im trailed by three final 12 months coming into the ultimate spherical, Keith Mitchell by one in 2019, Justin Thomas by one in 2018, Padraig Harrington by three in 2015, and Russell Henley by two in 2014.

Scott was tied for the lead after 54 holes on his technique to the 2016 win, and Fowler had a four-shot cushion going into Sunday 4 years in the past.

“You primarily simply attempt to deal with what you are doing,” Holmes stated. “There’s sufficient scoreboards on the market; you are going to look at it every so often. However when the wind’s this troublesome, something can occur.”

Smart was 2 underneath for his spherical and 14 underneath for the match after the fifth gap, six pictures away from the sphere.

That is when his woes began, and what turned a nine-shot turnaround between he and Jones started.

Smart sailed the cart path on the par-4 sixth, starting a stretch the place he would miss 5 fairways in a six-hole stretch. He three-putted for double bogey — his first of the week — on the sixth, then dropped pictures at two of his subsequent 4 holes.

Jones grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on the par-4 14th. Smart made bogey on the par-3 fifteenth, falling out of the lead.

The fifteenth begins the three-hole stretch known as “The Bear Entice,” a nod to Jack Nicklaus, and people holes are likely to determine issues at PGA Nationwide. They had been wrought with hassle Saturday; the fifteenth was the simplest, comparatively talking, surrendering eight birdies to 68 gamers.

The sixteenth and seventeenth, mixed, noticed one birdie Saturday.

Jones bought inside one with a birdie on the par-4 eleventh, then made one other birdie on the par-4 14th to get to 10 underneath and tie Smart for the lead at that time. And when Smart made bogey on the par-3 fifteenth, Jones was the outright chief once more.

He was 9 underneath after the opening spherical, 1 underneath within the 36 holes since. It is adequate for the lead and his plan for Sunday could not be extra easy.

“Simply hold doing what I am doing,” Jones stated.

DIVOTS: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker (70) was tied for 18th at 3 underneath. … No person has shot 4 rounds within the 60s on the Honda since 2017. 4 gamers — Bradley, Holmes, Tringale and Im — have an opportunity to take action Sunday. … Fowler shot 78 on Saturday to fall out of rivalry, but when he finishes Sunday someplace round thirty fifth, he may go Luke Donald because the Honda’s profession earnings chief. Donald has made $2,359,963 on the Honda; Fowler is $35,373 away.

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