After a 66, leader has better understanding of course
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Charley Hoffman thought he was through with Harbour Town Golf Links and the RBC Heritage. Turns out, he just wasn’t ready as a younger player to handle one of the PGA Tour’s trickiest layouts.
Hoffman missed the cut his first time here in 2006, then didn’t do much better the next visit, going 72-80 on the weekend in 2009 and took it off his schedule. But Hoffman has found a new appreciation and success at Harbour Town that has him 18 holes away from his third career tour victory.
Hoffman had four birdies on his first five holes Saturday to shoot 5-under 66 and take a two-stroke lead at 11 under over U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson.
“I would say I wasn’t mature enough to play this golf course,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t understand how to play it. I guess I would get frustrated when I hit the fairway and didn’t have a shot at the green.”
These days, the 36-year-old Hoffman had learned his way around Harbour Town like few others. The renaissance began last year with second-round 65 here that led to an eighth-place finish. Hoffman opened play with a 66 Thursday, moved into a three-way tie for the top Friday and took control with his hot start in the third round.
“Yeah, it was definitely the best playing round I’ve had in a long time,” he said.
He’ll need to have one more to hold off those chasing him down. Simpson, bidding for his first victory since winning his major at Olympic Club, finished with a bogey-free 65, tying the lowest round of the tournament.
Kevin Streelman shot a 69 and was alone in third at 8 under.
The round started with 91 players making the cut, tying the tour high set in 1981 at the Travelers Championship.
Jesper Parnevik moved the cut line Saturday morning to 2 over as he missed a 5-footer to complete his rain-delayed second round and opened the door for 21 players to keep playing.
Richard H. Lee, a former Husky from Bellevue, had a 2-under 69 for a 5-under 213 total and is tied for 14th.
• Suzann Pettersen won the LPGA Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii, beating Lizette Salas with a par on the first hole of a playoff after Salas chunked her approach shot into the water. Pettersen bogeyed the final hole of regulation to set up the playoff on the par-4 18th. The 32-year-old Norwegian closed with a 5-under 67, and Salas had a tournament-record 62 to finish at 19-under 269.
• Esteban Toledo, a rookie looking for his first victory on the Champions Tour, has a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga. Toledo completed his first-round 68 early Saturday before shooting a 2-under 70 in the second round. Bernhard Langer had a 66 that left him in a four-way tie for second with Roger Chapman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mark Calcavecchia. Kirk Triplett, a graduate of Pullman High, had a 70 for a 3-over 147 total and is tied for 33rd.
• Mark Warren of Scotland shot a 4-under 68 to take a two-shot lead after the third round of the Spanish Open at Valencia, Spain. Craig Lee of Scotland is two strokes back after a 70. American Peter Uihlein led entering the day but managed only a 74 to fall four shots back.