TURIN, Italy – Hennie Otto of South Africa held on to claim a second Italian Open victory by two shots on Sunday, while Stephen Gallacher came up just short of an automatic Ryder Cup spot after finishing third. Otto, who won the event in 2008, shot a 4-under 68 to finish with a 20-under total of 268 and hold off David Howell, who surged up the leaderboard with a 63 to finish second. Howell opened with an eagle and added seven birdies to beat Gallacher (65) by one shot. Gallacher needed a top-two finish to dislodge former U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell from the automatic Ryder Cup places for Europe’s team. It was only the 38-year-old’s Otto’s second tournament since his recovery from two back operations. ”I was playing well before the injury but it is a surprise to win so soon,” Otto said. ”Golf is not perfect and to come back after the operations and win in my second week, I will take that any day. ”Today wasn’t easy because the guys played so well with some of them trying to get The Ryder Cup spots. I really hope Stevie makes it – he deserves it and has proved himself this week.” Gallacher will now have to wait until Tuesday, when European captain Paul McGinley announces his three wild cards. ”It was a tall order but I am proud of myself the way I have played,” Gallacher said. ”I’m delighted with 17 under, it looks just a little short but there is nothing I can do. … There are four or five guys that are worthy (of a wild card) so it’s just what Paul sees.”
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Rick Cloninger advanced to the U.S. Senior Amateur quarterfinals Tuesday, beating qualifying medalist Alan Fadel and David Szewczul at Big Canyon. The 57-year-old Cloninger, from Fort Mill, South Carolina, routed Fadel, from Toledo, Ohio, 7 and 6 in the second round, and edged Szewczul, from Farmington, Connecticut, with a birdie on the 19th hole. Cloninger is a construction equipment consultant. He played baseball and football at Wofford College. On Friday morning in the event for players 55 and older, Cloninger will face Frank Dial of Auburn, Alabama. Dial beat James Gallagher of Yorktown, Virginia, 2 and 1.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Esteban Toledo held off 66-year-old Tom Watson by a stroke Sunday at Pebble Beach in the Champions Tour’s First Tee Open. The 52-year-old Mexican player shot a 3-under 69, rebounding from a bogey on the par-3 17th with a par on the par-5 18th for a 9-under 206 total. He also won twice on the 50-and-over tour in 2013. ”I got a little bit nervous,” Toledo said about of his bogey on the 17th when his tee shot went wide right. ”I had no idea where I was in the tournament at the time and I just hit a bad shot.” Watson was trying to break Mike Fetchick’s record as the oldest winner in tour history. Fetchick won the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational on his 63rd birthday. Watson finished with a 67 after a second-round 65. The Hall of Famer moved into a tie for the lead at 9 under on the par-4 16th with his seventh birdie of the round, but bogeyed the 17th after hitting his tee shot into a bunker and missing a 10-foot par putt. He parred the 18th. ”It was great to be in position to win,” said Watson, winless since the 2011 Senior PGA Championship. ”I thought I was going to shoot my age again. That was really cool to break my age yesterday, especially here at Pebble Beach.” After opening with a 75 at Poppy Hills, Watson had a 65 on Saturday at Pebble Beach. He won the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and took the PGA Tour’s Bing Crosby event at the course in 1977 and 1978. ”You remember those times and the positive shots you hit,” Watson said. ”That’s how I played today. I got off to a really good start with four birdies in a row.” Toledo shot a 66 at Pebble Beach in the second round and had only two bogeys in the tournament. ”I finished second to Colin Montgomerie at the Senior PGA this year and I learned a lot,” Toledo said. ”I learned I had to be more aggressive and make putts and I did.” Second-round leader Montgomerie closed with a 73 to tie for third at 7 under with Vijay Singh and Woody Austin. Singh finished with a 69, and Austin shot 70.
Rory McIlroy once again caught fire in the middle of his round at the BMW South African Open. But, once again, a bogey at the last left him trailing leader Graeme Storm. McIlroy is three shots back entering the final round at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. He stands at 14 under par, following a third-round 67. Storm (67) is at 17 under. McIlroy was hampered by a bad back in the second round and, following some work with trainers, was able to compete on Saturday. He was slow out of the gates, with one birdie over his first six holes, but then he holed out for eagle on the par-4 seventh. That sparked a run in which he played a seven-hole stretch in 5 under par. But McIlroy was unable to birdie the par-5 15th and then, for the second consecutive day, bogeyed the last. Full-field scores from the BMW South African Open Still, he sounded upbeat entering the finale. “I’m very pleased,” McIlory told reporters. “I was in a bit of discomfort early on but the physio got me out to play. I started well and drove the ball well. I gave myself plenty of chances and took a few of them in the middle of the round like I did yesterday. “It was a decent score, but I felt it could have been better. The finish was disappointing, not birdieing 15 and then dropping a shot on the way in, but I’m still in with a shout tomorrow and that’s all I can ask.” Storm only has his European Tour card for this year because Patrick Reed didn’t meet the minimum requirement of events played last season, which opened an extra spot on the money list. He lone tour victory came in the 2007 French Open. He hasn’t made a bogey in his last 41 holes played. ”I have never played with Rory before and I know him really well so it will be a lot of fun,” Storm said. ”If he hits a good shot and pips me or beats me comfortably, or whoever makes a move from behind, I can’t really control that. All I can do is control my golf ball. ”If I can shoot another score in the 60s I’ll be pleased even if I don’t win. I have come here as a big underdog so that is fine with me.”
LOS ANGELES – Louis Pasteur once famously figured, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” There’s no history of the father of pasteurization playing competitive golf, and most players in the Genesis Open field probably wouldn’t recognize his prose, but they certainly live by the concept. On the PGA Tour, every eventuality is anticipated, from the choice of what clubs to play at certain venues to the shots they practice depending on that week’s conditions. No golf ball is left unturned. But during weeks like this when Mother Nature forces her will on the outcome, often there is no way to prepare. It’s an occupational hazard of playing an outdoor sport, but that doesn’t provide any comfort when players end up on the wrong side of the draw. At Riviera Country Club, that line was clearly drawn as Round 2 got underway on Friday under foreboding skies. After a pair of fog delays on Day 1 pushed the completion of the first round into Friday, the early starters were greeted with increasingly difficult conditions. By the time many reached the turn, the storm that had been forecast had arrived, with winds gusting to 40 mph and a cold, driving rain making just remaining upright difficult, never mind trying to swing with any consistency. When play was suspended for the day just past noon, none of the late second-round starters had began their rounds. When those late starters returned early Saturday to a soft golf course and dramatically calmer conditions, the differential between waves was striking. The early wave scoring average for Round 2, those who played through the worst of Friday’s tempest, was 72.86 (including just 29 of 72 rounds in the 60s), while the afternoon draw was more than two strokes better with a 70.47 average. Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos “This weather sure would have been nice to play in yesterday or this morning,” Justin Thomas tweeted of the more benign afternoon conditions long after he’d completed his weather-whipped round. It’s understandable those on the wrong side of lady luck may lament their misfortune, but they also realize that pulling a “bad draw” is simply part of the game, like a poor lie or a perfect drive that finds a divot (a rub that should be eliminated, but that’s a topic for another day). “You’ve got to try and find positives because the moment that you start thinking negatives and ‘Why am I so unlucky because I was on the wrong side of the draw?’ that’s why you’re either missing cuts or you’re not making the right decisions out there,” said world No. 1 Jason Day, who endured the worst of Friday’s conditions on his way to his second consecutive 70. Joining Day on the wrong side of fortune were Brooks Koepka (72), Thomas (71) and Hideki Matsuyama, who was 146 under par in his last 10 starts before ballooning to a second-round 80. It was the Japanese star’s first missed cut anywhere in the world since last August. Although the weather normally doesn’t become such a dramatic influence until the Open Championship, when a shifting wind can bring four seasons in a matter of minutes, the last two Tour stops have been influenced by storms that didn’t impact the field equally. Similarly heavy rain and wind forced officials to suspend play during Round 1 last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but that “Crosby” edition of the old clambake also stands as an example of how players can often overcome a poor draw. Jordan Speith was in the early, more demanding, wave last week at Pebble Beach and had to finish his opening round on Friday on his way to a four-stroke victory; and this week Jhonattan Vegas has defied the odds, coming from the poor side of the tee sheet to grab a share of the early second-round lead. Vegas played through Friday’s gale, opening his round with birdies at Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 9 before the more difficult conditions set in and he closed his round with seven consecutive pars (including the final four of his second round on Saturday morning). “It was tough but I knew that you had to stay patient,” Vegas said. “This is a course that nobody’s going to run away with it. Just have to stay patient and it worked out really well.” Given the forecast, which included a 100 percent chance of rain on Friday, Vegas said he knew he was probably on the wrong side of the draw but didn’t spend a lot of time mulling his fate. “It’s too much extra pressure you put on yourself that you shouldn’t,” said Vegas, who will begin the third round tied for fourth place after play was suspended because of darkness. “Obviously you plan for what’s coming your way, but if you start looking at bad breaks and good breaks and good luck and bad luck, it’s just a lot happening that’s out of your control that I try not to focus on it.” Pasteur was right, chance does favor the prepared mind. But on days like Friday, the strong mind also has a say in things.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Fidgeting with his wedding ring, discussing his new, long-term equipment deal, Rory McIlroy officially launched the next chapter of his career Tuesday at The Players. He is making his first start since the Masters, since he tested even more clubs, since he got married to fiancée Erica Stoll, since he finalized the deal with TaylorMade, since he shed a few pounds from his honeymoon and since he ramped up his preparation for a return to competition. A hectic April, to be sure, and yet … “With everything that’s gone on the last few weeks,” he said, “it seems like everything is very settled. There’s not many question marks going on in my life right now. I feel like everything is exactly where it’s meant to be, and if you feel like that off the golf course, then I can only imagine that it will help you on it.” McIlroy better hope for a wedding bump, because his main competition is pulling away. On a tear since last year’s U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson has opened up a nearly five-point lead in the world rankings – over the past two decades, only Tiger Woods has enjoyed such a massive advantage. “I can’t see him falling off or dropping off,” McIlroy said, “so it’s up to the other guys to try and catch him.” Since DJ’s considerable shadow has obscured the rest of the Tour, it seems like eons ago that McIlroy last won. But since the Tour Championship, he has played only seven events – Johnson has 10 starts during that span – his progress derailed by an early-season rib injury. Since returning in March, he has finished seventh or better in all three stroke-play events, including at the Masters. After falling short at Augusta, again, McIlroy suggested that he needed to make some changes with his game. That included a closer look at his equipment, and so he tested clubs for 10 days before being blown away by TaylorMade’s offerings, specifically its new ball, the TP5x. The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos Said McIlroy: “I thought, Wow, this is what I need. This is exactly the thing that I’ve been struggling with.” Everything else fell into place, and McIlroy, after hinting at an equipment change in an Instagram post on Monday, announced the lucrative, full-bag deal on Tuesday. It’s a calculated risk, of course, switching out the entire bag. If he had enough rounds to qualify, McIlroy would rank first on Tour in strokes gained-tee to green. “But I came to the conclusion that this was the best way forward for me to try and improve, try and win more, try to get back to world No. 1, try to win more majors, so I’m really excited about that,” McIlroy said. “It’s very rare that you get really excited about your equipment, but I feel like it’s a new chapter in my life, and it’s hopefully going to take me to the next level.” That new chapter also includes his new life off the course. He married Stoll on April 22 at Ashford Castle in Ireland, a lavish wedding that included Masters champion Sergio Garcia and pop star Niall Horan and soul singer Stevie Wonder. No, McIlroy isn’t the only Tour player to get married this year – Valspar winner Adam Hadwin tied the knot in March – but he is the most famous. And just like every newly married man, he expects a learning curve as he adjusts to a different level of contentment. “This game is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, so I’ll always be determined, I’ll always be intense and try to get the most out of my game,” he said. “I don’t think that will change just because I’m married or not. My mentality on the golf course will just be the same. It might help me get over tough losses a little bit easier, but I don’t know – I’ll have to tell you what that time comes.” But McIlroy isn’t completely settled – at least not yet. The Northern Irishman is not a full-time resident in the States, so he can spend only 120 days in the U.S. and 90 in the United Kingdom. Now that he’s married to a U.S. citizen, however, he can establish a permanent residence here beginning on Jan. 1. “I can’t wait to have a home,” he said. “I’ve been a bit of a nomad for the past few years.” And settling down can have a significant benefit, right? “Just being centered,” he said. “Now you know what you can go back to and what you have.” And what McIlroy has is seemingly everything – an awe-inspiring golf game, a beautiful wife, a support system with family and friends, an abundance of riches. What comes next, what he achieves, is entirely up to him. “I’m in a great place in my life and I feel very settled and very lucky to be in this position,” he said. “Now it’s just about trying to make the most of the good fortune that I’ve had.”
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park didn’t turn the CME Group Tour Championship into a runaway Saturday at Tiburon Golf Club. She left with bloody fingernails after a brutal day failing to cling to her spot atop the leaderboard. OK, they weren’t really bloody, but even the unflappable Park wasn’t immune to mounting pressure, with the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the money-winning title among the prizes she knew were within reach when she teed it up. “It’s honestly some of the worst pressure,” Stacy Lewis said of CME week. “It’s so much pressure. It’s just really hard to free yourself up and play golf.” Lewis isn’t in the mix for all those prizes this year, but the two-time Rolex Player of the Year and two-time Vare Trophy winner knows what the full weight of this week’s possibilities bring. “It’s almost nice to come here without all that pressure, but you want to be in that situation,” Lewis said. “It’s just really tough.” Park is no longer in charge at Tiburon. This championship is wide, wide open with a four-way tie for first place and 18 players within two shots of the lead. Park is one shot back after stumbling to a 3-over-par 75. Count Michelle Wie among the four tied for the lead after charging with a 66. Former world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn (67), Suzann Pettersen (69) and Kim Kaufman (64) are also atop the leaderboard. Kaufman was the story of the day, getting herself in contention with a sizzling round just two weeks after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. Park is in a seven-way tie for fifth place just one shot back. CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship Lexi Thompson (69) is in that mix a shot back, as is Lewis (67), who is seeking to add a second title this year to her emotional win for Houston hurricane relief. For Wie, winning the tournament will be reward enough, given how her strong rebound this year seemed derailed in September by an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks. Before the surgery, Wie fought her way back from two of the most disappointing years of her career, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October. “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” Wie said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun. That’s when I play my best.” All the subplots make Sunday so much more complicated for Park and Thompson, who are best positioned for a giant haul of hardware. They have the most to gain in the final round. Park has already clinched the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, but she can add the Rolex Player of the Year title, joining Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win both those awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. A fifth place finish or better could give Park the Player of the Year Award outright, depending what others do. “There are a lot of top players right now at the top of the leaderboard,” Park said. “Keeping my focus will be key.” Thompson can still take home the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy and the CME Globe jackpot. She needs to win the tournament Sunday to win Player of the Year. Like Park, Thompson is trying not to think about it all of that. “I treat every tournament the same,” Thompson said. “I go into it wanting to win. I’m not really thinking about anything else.” The Vare Trophy for low scoring average is Thompson’s to lose. Park has to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson on Sunday to have a shot at the trophy, and they are tied at 9-under overall. The money-winning title is Park’s to lose. So Yeon Ryu has to win the tournament Sunday to have a chance to wrestle the title from Park, but Ryu has to pass 31 players to do so. The CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot remains more up for grabs, with Thompson and Park best positioned to win it, though Jutanugarn is poised to pounce if both stumble. A lot is still possible in the race for the jackpot. The pressure will be turned way up on the first tee Sunday. “There is always that little bit of adrenaline,” Thompson said. “You just have to tame it and control it.”
AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play. There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV. Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy. Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation. “We’re so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That’s what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it’s a phenomenon, it’s something that he’s not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you’re working together, but we want to beat each other every time.” But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced. The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia. That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship. Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue. WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday. “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said. While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don’t know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine. For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better. “I’ve been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled. But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations. Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten. They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command. “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.” Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas. “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.” Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week. It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In the spring of 2006, then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made his case for the circuit’s decision to move The Players from March to May. “We have warmer weather and drier weather, which means we can prepare the golf course in a more consistent fashion and keep it firmer and faster at a much higher percentage of the time combined with the changes we are making to the golf course,” Finchem said at the time. “In March, we have some great weather years, but we also have some bad weather years like last year. We like the date change, we like the position on the schedule, and we like what it does for our ability to set up the golf course and for television.” Finchem, who stepped down as commissioner in 2016, would spend the next few months connecting similar talking points, telling anyone who would listen that The Players was better in May. May produced no shortage of highlights, from Rickie Fowler’s inspired finish in 2015 to Tiger Woods’ second victory at TPC Sawgrass in ’13, but a dozen years later, many Tour pros are excited to see the event move back to March. “I like it better in March. Back to the overseed [grass]. I think there was a lot of fun stuff happening on that course with that kind of grass,” said Adam Scott, whose Players’ victory in 2004 came before the move to May. “The tiers on the greens and spinning it around the greens was exciting. I don’t think they ever got the setup right in May.” This week’s Players Championship will be the last held in May, with the Tour announcing last year that the event will move back to March beginning next year to accomodate the PGA Championship’s date change. It’s all part of a larger makeover of the Tour schedule that will see the season ending before Labor Day, with five consecutive months defined by marquee events. The move was necessitated by the need for a more condensed schedule, and that’s just fine with a significant number of players, who prefer the March date. The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos In the March vs. May debate, there may be just a single unbiased voice. Woods is the only player to have won the event in both months. He remembers those March Players when the wind blew cold and the course played much longer than the 7,100 yards listed on the scorecard. “March is different because obviously we can get some of those cold spells that come through there. We’ve played there with some brutally cold conditions, lots of wind,” Woods said. “I played there one time, I hit 5-iron on 17. It was cold, about 40 degrees and the wind’s howling out of the north, and that’s not a hole you want to hit 5-iron on.” While that might not sound like a ringing endorsement for the move back to March, here is Phil Mickelson, whose lone victory at The Players (2007) came in May, to provide one. “I would probably pick March where it’s overseeded and a little softer, for the reason that the greens are not really designed for run-up shots, at least 17 isn’t,” Mickelson said. “The way it played in March, I kind of preferred over the firm, fast. I don’t think when it was designed, it was designed to be firm, fast the way it has played the last few years.” As for weather, on March 16th on this year – next year’s Players will be held March 14-17 – the high temperature at TPC Sawgrass was 69 degrees. The monthly rain average in March is 3.66 inches compared with 2.76 inches in May. When Finchem was making his case for the event to move to May, he talked about the course playing hard and fast. To players, that was code for “more difficult,” but it didn’t play out that way. In the 11 years since the event has been played in May, the winner’s total has averaged 275.9. In the previous 11 tournaments in March, the winner’s average was 276. As is normally the case on Tour, the move isn’t universally favored. “I prefer May. The weather is better in May. I like the golf course not overseeded where it can get bouncy and things like that,” Charles Howell III said. “I’ve played there many times in March when it’s freezing and windy and rainy. It seems like I’m almost in the minority.” He did have one high-profile ally in Jordan Spieth, despite his surprisingly poor record at The Players that includes three missed cuts in four starts. “At this point any change is probably a good thing for me,” Spieth laughed. “I like this grass type better [in May]. I grew up on this, Bermuda, not the overseed, having to judge firmer, faster greens, and then the biggest change will be within the rough. Whether that’s good [or] bad for the tournament, that’s for somebody else to decide.”
MALELANE, South Africa – Pablo Larrazabal has kept his three-shot lead going into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Larrazabal’s 2-under 70 Saturday in the third round of the European Tour’s first tournament of the 2020 season put him 11 under par and kept him ahead of Wil Besseling (70). South African home favorite Branden Grace (71) is a shot further back in third on 7 under. Full-field scores from the Alfred Dunhill Championship Larrazabal made five birdies but also three bogeys on another tough day at Leopard Creek Country Club, where players have faced scorching temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and gusting winds. Those high temperatures convinced the tour to allow players to wear shorts in tournament play for the first time. Charl Schwartzel is making a solid return after an eight-month injury layoff, with a 70 putting him 4 under and in a tie for sixth.