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2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational Round 3 Leaderboard: Simpson opens two-shot lead at Colonial

By
Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange
Webb Simpson hits out of the sand on the first hole of the World Golf Championship Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park in San Francisco. File photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Webb Simpson hits out of the sand on the first hole of the World Golf Championship Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park in San Francisco. File photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Webb Simpson's steely eyed performance Saturday during the third round of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational might have looked easy but don't be fooled -- nothing is given at venerable and unforgiving Colonial Country Club, especially any quarter to the golfers who try to tame this storied track.

Simpson fashioned a 3-under-par 67 in hot, muggy and blustery conditions to finish at 9-under 201 and assume a two-shot lead here on the banks of the Trinity River.

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Paul Casey of England and second-round co-leader Danny Lee of New Zealand are tied for second. Casey fired a 68 that included a curving, 23-foot birdie putt on the final hole and Lee followed in the next-to-last group with his own 16-foot birdie to finish off a 69.

Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open champion, shot a 66 and is tied with second-round co-leader Kevin Kisner, three shots back in a tie for fourth.

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Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion who finished second in this event last year and was a co-leader after the second round, managed birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 10 and 11, plus a bogey on the eighth, and made his round look simple despite a heat index that reached 104 degrees.

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"The big thing for me is I was hitting it into the fairway," Simpson said. "When you start hitting them in the rough you start guessing and you're dealing with jumpers and dealing with the wind. At least in the fairway you're in control, and so that's probably why it looked easy. It didn't feel easy. It's 100 degrees out there. We were just trying to stay upright."

Jon Rahm of Spain forged a scrambling 70 and is tied with Sean O'Hair (70) in sixth, four strokes in arrears.

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"I had a lot of up and downs and wasn't really accurate with the driver on the front nine," Rahm said. "I struggled up until No. 9. After that I hit a lot of fairways and I just put myself in position, hit some greens and actually made some putts.

"Obviously Colonial is going to get you if you don't put it in position," Rahm added. "If someone told me ahead of the round that I was going to finish even par I would be really happy with it. I'm still in position and just have positive thoughts for tomorrow."

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Emiliano Grillo of Argentina carded a third round-low 65 and is five shots back in a tie for eighth with hometown favorite and defending champion Jordan Spieth (68), Bill Haas (68), Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain (71) and second-round co-leader Scott Piercy (72).

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"I have a chance for a low one tomorrow," Spieth said. "There is no reason to hold anything back. I drove the ball tremendous today on this golf course. I feel great. You know, gosh, I put myself in position off the tee to shoot 8 under today. With this heat, I just flew I think five greens to the back pins. You just can't do that. More greens in reg tomorrow, and let her go."

Only 20 of the 72 players went under par in the third round and 21 golfers have played the course in better than par over the past three days.

"The wind was a little less than we've seen and the pins were a little bit friendlier," Simpson added. "It didn't seem as hard as yesterday or even Thursday. But that's the beauty of this golf course. If you're a little off it'll expose you pretty quickly. At the same time, you're going to have a lot of short irons into the greens and you'll have birdie opportunities if you're in the fairway."

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Cink, who moved up seven spots, and Grillo, who bettered his standing by 25 positions, were the only players to move into the top eight and within five strokes of the lead.

Phil Mickelson, who won this event in 2000 and 2008 and is playing here for the first time since missing the cut in 2010, shot a 69 and is tied for 32nd, 10 shots off Simpson's lead.

NOTES: The scoring average of 71.65 in the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday was the highest since 1991, with the cut at 4-over-par the highest since 1999. ... Jordan Spieth had to replace regular caddy Michael Greller, who was not feeling well, on the back nine of round three. Greller was feeling worse for the wear after attending the U2 concert at AT&T Stadium on Friday night in Arlington, Texas, and the after-effects combined with the 90-plus degree heat was too much for him. Spieth's personal trainer, Damon Goddard carried the Texan's bag for the rest of the round. ... Because of the threat of thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain early Sunday morning, tee times for the final round were moved back to begin at 9:45 a.m. (with the last one at 11:45 a.m.), with play in threesomes off split tees. ... In the 69 playings of the tournament at Colonial, the third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to claim victory 36 times, most recently Spieth in 2016.

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