With three official (stop and start) rounds in the books, the 2019 Zurich Classic looks to be set for a wild final day of foursomes at TPC Louisiana, as 15 teams were separated by just five shots.
Leading the way was the team of Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax, who started red-hot with five birdies and an eagle on the first eight en route to a 10-under par 62 during Saturday’s four-ball format.
“Coming out of the gates hot was nice. Hit a good wedge shot on the first and hit a really nice shot out of the bunker there. Hit right into the hill and bounced up just like we wanted to,” said Mullinax.
“Scott got his putter hot on some of those holes there and made some nice putts where I could just pick mine up. We kept calling it room service. I told him if he’d make it, I would get out of the hole and call it room service.
“It was a lot fun today. We had a really good time. We were laughing and just playing like we would in practice rounds and I really enjoyed it.”
At 23-under par – a new 54-hole (team) tournament record, the pair share the lead with the twosome of Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer, who carded a 64 on Saturday.
“I had some good golf on the front, but I rode John’s back that back nine,” joked Palmer. “He played some great golf and made some unbelievable putts to keep the round going.”
One back was the team of Branden Grace and Justin Harding, who rode a 13-hole stretch (Nos. 4-16) of 11 birdies to a low-round 61. With this week’s performance, the South Africans are expected to be part of compatriot Ernie Els’ Presidents team plans.
Second-round co-leaders, Brian Gay and Rory Sabbatini, signed for a clean scorecard, comprised of four birdies and one eagle (par-5 7th), to reach 20-under par, good for T4 alongside the team of Peter Malnati and Billy Hurley III (66).
Six more teams were tied for sixth at 19-under par, including pre-tournament betting favorites Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia (64), who will be one of the top chasing teams to watch on Sunday.
“In foursomes obviously there’s a little bit more pressure on both of us, but for example, this morning Tommy was unbelievable in foursomes, kept stiffing it over and over again, and I managed to make a couple of putts, and this afternoon I’ve played quite nicely, but the holes that I wasn’t in it, he was right there,” explained Garcia.
“That’s the most important thing. I think making sure that you gel nicely and you match up nicely on those holes, that if one of them doesn’t do well the other one nice.”
Four more pairings rounded out the chasing pack within five shots of the lead, including Team Koepka (brothers Brooks and Chase), who carded a bogey-free 63 which included seven birdies and one eagle (par-5 7th hole).
Also in that T12 group was the veteran European duo of Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell (66).
Top-10 Leaders: Round 3
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 3)
1. Stallings / Mullinax -23 (-10)
1. Rahm / Palmer -23 (-8)
3. Grace / Harding -22 (-11)
4. Malnati / Hurley -20 (-6)
4. Gay / Sabbatini -20 (-6)
6. Cook / Landry -19 (-10)
6. Garcia / Fleetwood -19 (-8)
6. Lebioda/ Luck -19 (-8)
6. Dahmen / Harkins -19 (-8)
6. Henley / Blaum -19 (-7)
6. Knox / Stuard -19 (-6)
“Actually we first met in 2015. Final round in U.S. Open. I was still an amateur. I played with Ryan. I think we each had a low round, 6- or 7-under to be one back of the playoff. I finished Top 5, which was I think one of the highlights of my college career.
“So we met there. He made every single putt he looked at and I looked how he made every single putt. That was the first time we met.
“How this came along is last year we were paired in the same group. He was playing with Jordan and I was playing with Wesley, and Wesley got injured and had surgery. Jordan couldn’t make it. We both played good last year, we know our games, we have very similar games, very similar ball flights off the tee and ball flights with the irons, so it’s very easy for us to get in each other’s mind and see what’s going to happen.
“Very comfortable with how each other played, and, yeah, felt like a right fit.”
– Jon Rahm, on relationship with teammate Ryan Palmer.