Korea’s Tom Kim produced a crucial 10-foot par save on his last hole en route to a bogey-free 3-under 67 on Saturday to stay on leader Rory McIlroy’s heels at the Genesis Scottish Open.
The 21-year-old Kim clenched his fist with delight after scrambling for his four on the 18th hole at the Renaissance Golf Club to remain one back of McIlroy, who also carded a 67 to lead the US$9 million tournament co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour on 13-under.
“To be able to walk off with a par is definitely going to make my lunch taste a lot better,” said Kim.
“That was huge, obviously, with momentum and everything. Puts me in a good spot to have a chance tomorrow. I just had a lot of tough situations but obviously with the wind everything and, just got to trust and I did. Pretty fortunate to walk off with a bogey-free round.”
Kim is relishing a return to the home of golf this week after finishing solo third at the Genesis Scottish Open 12 months ago which provided the launchpad to his two PGA TOUR wins in 2022. He has continued to show his growing mastery of links golf but faces a daunting challenge with world No. 3 and reigning FedExCup champion, McIlroy remaining in the driver’s seat for the second straight day.
The Northern Irishman carded five birdies against two bogeys for his 19th 54-hole lead/co-lead as he chases a 24th career PGA TOUR victory. “It was another really good round of golf. Very solid,” said McIlroy, who has converted 10 of 18 previous third round leads.
“I feel like I’ve left a few out there over the last couple of days, but at the same time, at least the last few holes, it was quite tricky conditions. Looking forward to obviously being in the final group tomorrow and seeing how my game holds up under that sort of pressure.”
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who has six DP World Tour victories but is still seeking a maiden title on the PGA TOUR, fired the day’s best of 63 for a share of third place with Brian Harman (67), two off the pace.
Byeong Hun An of Korea, who was the first round leader after a 61, battled to a 69 for a share of fifth on 10-under with amongst others, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who closed out his round with three birdies over his last four holes for a 67.
With winds buffeting throughout the day, Kim hit only five fairways and needed to rely on his iron play to keep McIlroy firmly in his sights. He holed putts of inside of eight feet for his birdies on the third, sixth and 10th holes.
“I think more than anything, it was how hard I battled today,” said Kim. “That’s what meant the most for me. I felt like that putt (on 18) was the cherry on top because I fought so hard just to get everything out of that round.
“It was a pretty tough moving day for me. Off the tee, I wasn’t really in the right spot. But I think that’s probably as good as I could have played. I hung in there and left myself a lot of tough shots but I had some nice up-and-downs to at least give myself a chance to have a good one tomorrow.”
Tournament organisers have brought the final round tee times forward, with the final group teeing off at 8.57am due to forecasted high winds. Kim is relishing the prospect of fighting the elements, aside from a world-class field. “Obviously last year was really tough, with the wind. I feel like when the wind blows, you’ve got to have a lot of patience and be mentally tough. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge,” said Kim.
The 31-year-old An traded three birdies against two bogeys to maintain his title challenge for a first PGA TOUR victory. He will start the final round three behind McIlroy.
“I didn’t have my best the last two days, and still only two or three shots back. Hopefully everything falls together like the first day. Struggled with tee shots and then second shots a little bit. But I hung in there and back nine was much better,” said An, who holds one win on the DP World Tour with his 2015 BMW PGA Championship victory.
Aside from chasing for a victory, An is also in position to earn one of three tickets available here to The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool next week. “If I get in (to The Open), it’s great. If not, then I’ll go home to see my family. I don’t see any losing point here. At least I get home, home or The Open. The Open would be a little better I think. But it’s golf. You never know. I’ll try my best tomorrow and see what it brings me.”
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, July 15, 2023
Weather: Mostly cloudy. High of 64. Wind S 10-20 mph.
Final-round tee times: Due to forecasted high winds on Sunday, final-round tee times will be 6:45-8:57 a.m. BST in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10
|1||Rory McIlroy||64||66||67||197 (-13)|
|2||Tom Kim||66||65||67||198 (-12)|
|T3||Tommy Fleetwood||70||66||63||199 (-11)|
|T3||Brian Harman||67||65||67||199 (-11)|