Korea’s ironman Sungjae Im jumped on route 66 to keep co-leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay firmly in his sight at the BMW Championship on Saturday as countrymen K.H. Lee and Si Woo Kim produced stirring third round fightbacks to keep alive hopes of qualifying for the TOUR Championship.
Chasing a second PGA TOUR win, the 24-year-old Im produced another rock-solid display highlighted by seven birdies at Caves Valley Golf Club for an 18-under 198 total for solo third place. He will enter the final day three back of DeChambeau and Cantlay, who fired rounds of 67 and 66 respectively for 21-under.
Lee, who broke through for his first TOUR win in May, soared with two eagles for a 66 which pushed him up to tied 12th place on 12-under. He needs a projected ninth place finish or better on Sunday to qualify for the FedExCup Finale, the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club next week for the first time.
Similarly, Kim’s 65 which featured eight birdies meant he will also have a fighting chance to break into the top-30 of the FedExCup standings and get to East Lake. Currently tied for 40th place at Caves Valley, he requires a projected 15th place finish or better while Im is virtually assured of a third trip to the Season Finale. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, meanwhile, carded a 72 for tied 26th place and has already punched his eighth straight visit to East Lake.
Im ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and sixth in Putting on Saturday as he enjoyed another birdie binge to keep up his good from in the penultimate event of the 2020-21 Season. He holed birdie putts of 17 feet and six feet on the 17th and 18th holes to end his day on a high note.
“I hit good drivers and iron shots. But my putting was really good today and helped me make many birdies and finished with a good score,” said Im, who has four top-10s this season.
Knowing that he needed a low round to keep his season alive, the 29-year-old Lee eagled the par-5 second hole with a glorious three wood approach to within two feet and then rolled in a 48-footer for another eagle on the par-5 12th hole. His current projection sees him lying in 32nd position on the FedExCup standings, two rungs outside the TOUR Championship.
“For the first one, I hit a great 3 wood and it landed just next to the hole for a tap-in and for second eagle, I putted from off the fringe and it luckily found the hole. I am happy with those two eagles in one day,” said Lee.
“I started my day with birdie, eagle, and I could start with a good momentum. I struggled with my putting a little bit after that but I got back on track on the back nine for a good score. This will hopefully give me momentum for tomorrow. One thing that I was a little disappointed with was not being able to add more birdies over the last three holes. I will try to make more putts tomorrow to try and make it to the TOUR Championship.”
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, August 28, 2021
Weather: Partly Sunny. High of 87. Wind NNE 5-10 mph.
Bryson DeChambeau 68-60-67—195 (-21)
Patrick Cantlay 66-63-66—195 (-21)
Sungjae Im 67-65-66—198 (-18)
Rory McIlroy 64-70-65—199 (-17)
Abraham Ancer 66-67-66—199 (-17)
Sam Burns 64-70-65—199 (-17)
Sergio Garcia 65-67-67—199 (-17)