HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The PGA Tour's return to competition has brought together the strongest fields of the year on courses that have not been overly punishing, and the result is the same.
It's another free-for-all at the RBC Heritage.
Webb Simpson practically had to apologize for a 3-under 68, in which he managed just one birdie on the back nine. He was part of a four-way tie for the lead, and that was good enough for him. He also knows good probably won't cut it today at Harbour Town.
“It's not like I've got a three- or four-shot lead and could shoot a couple under,” he said. “It's going to take a good one.”
Tyrrell Hatton had one of six rounds at 63, giving him a share of the lead as he goes for his second straight victory, albeit three months apart.
Abraham Ancer, solid with his irons, had a 65 and joined the lead along with Ryan Palmer, who had a 66. They were at 15-under 198, a number that didn't even start to explain the low scoring.
Even with Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele sputtering to 75s, the field was 223-under par, the lowest for any round since the RBC Heritage began in 1969. There were 35 players at 10 under or better, compared with only one player (Dustin Johnson) a year ago.
Most telling were the opportunities on Sunday.
There were 21 players separated by just three shots going into the final round. A week ago at Colonial, there were 14 players separated by three shots.
“I think the fields have been extremely strong,” Ancer said. “Everybody out here was just eager to come out and play. The greens are a little bit soft, especially this week, and the ball isn't really rolling out as much as you're used to on the greens and on the fairways. That's yielding a little bit more birdies, for sure.”
Carlos Ortiz, who started this tournament with two double bogeys in his first five holes, suddenly has a chance to grab his first PGA Tour victory after two eagles in a round of 63. He was one shot behind, along with Colonial winner Daniel Berger and Joel Dahmen, both with 63s.
And there was more testing than usual.
Players and caddies on the charter flight to Connecticut for next week's event had to take a saliva test Saturday for the coronavirus before they can get on the plane. Eleven others had testing Friday night because they were deemed to have been in close contact with Nick Watney, whose positive test on Friday was the first in golf's return.
At Harbour Town Golf Links,
Hilton Head, S.C.
Yardage: 7,099; Par: 71
Tyrrell Hatton 71-64-63-198 –15
Abraham Ancer 69-64-65-198 –15
Ryan Palmer 65-67-66-198 –15
Webb Simpson 65-65-68-198 –15
Carlos Ortiz 69-67-63-199 –14
Daniel Berger 67-69-63-199 –14
Joel Dahmen 68-68-63-199 –14