2023 RBC Heritage Round 3: Fitzpatrick heads star-studded leaderboard
It’s not uncommon for PGA Tour pros playing in the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing to recount their regular summer vacations to Hilton Head Island or their childhood memories of attending the event.
But they’re usually not golfers from Sheffield, England. They’re usually from Ohio.
Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick has shown his love for Harbour Town Golf Links with a candy-striped lighthouse head cover since his early days on the PGA Tour, and now he’s 18 holes away from slipping into a tartan jacket with that iconic lighthouse serving as the backdrop for a $3.6 million payday.
Fitzpatrick went out early and fired a career-low 8-under-par 63 jumpstarted by a 149-yard holeout from the waste area for an eagle at No. 3. He reeled off three more birdies on the front nine to go out in 6-under 30 and tacked on birdies at the par-4 13th and par-5 15th to finish off a bogey-free round that vaulted him to the top of a star-studded leaderboard at -14.
Patrick Cantlay is one shot back after a 5-under 66, looking to add to a terrific record at Harbour Town, where he has tied for seventh, tied for third twice, and finished runner-up in a playoff last year to Jordan Spieth, who also shot 66 on Saturday and sits two off the lead.
A group of five players is another shot back at -11, including Scottie Scheffler and 36-hole leader Jimmy Walker, who was tied with Fitzpatrick at -14 through 10 holes Saturday before three bogeys coming in dropped him off the pace.
Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has recalled annually his affinity for the Heritage and the “fair test” Pete Dye’s masterpiece provides, even if it has often gotten the better of him. He has made five cuts in eight starts here, with three top-15 finishes including a tie for fourth in 2021.
“Aside from Augusta, it's my favorite golf course. It really is,” Fitzpatrick said. “I love coming here to play it. I've not had the best results around here. I've had a couple good runs and a couple poor ones, but I really enjoy the design, enjoy the test, and I think it's a great golf course.”
Fitzpatrick’s affinity dates back to childhood, when he first played Harbour Town while on one of many family “holidays” to the island, and he has often said the Heritage has always been on the short list of tournaments he dreamed of winning.
It could happen Sunday, but he will have to hold off a host of fellow major championship winners, including the two stars who dueled to the finish in front of the iconic lighthouse a year ago, to get it done.
Fitzpatrick started Saturday six shots off the lead and found himself alone at the top of the leaderboard by the day’s end. Thirty golfers are still within that six-shot range going into Sunday, and with scattered thunderstorms in the forecast and the potential for more difficult scoring conditions as the day progresses, any one of them could add their name to a prestigious list of Heritage champions.
2023 RBC Heritage Round 3 Notes
Via PGA Tour Communications
Weather: Sunny. High of 80. Wind SSW 7-14 mph. NOTE: Based on an inclement weather forecast Sunday, the final round will feature threesomes off No. 1 tee from 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. ET
Matt Fitzpatrick 66-70-63—199 (-14)
Patrick Cantlay 69-65-66—200 (-13)
Jordan Spieth 68-67-66—201 (-12)
Five players 202 (-11)
Things to Know
2022 U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick holds the 54-hole lead/co-lead on TOUR for the third time while seeking his second PGA TOUR win
2022 runner-up Patrick Cantlay seeks to become the first player to win a tournament one year after losing it in a playoff since 2008
Defending champion Jordan Spieth trails by two in bid to successfully defend on TOUR for the first time in 12 attempts
Six-time PGA TOUR winner and 36-hole leader Jimmy Walker sits three back in search of his first title since the 2016 PGA Championship
Mark Hubbard, Tommy Fleetwood and Hayden Buckley are players among the top 15 on the leaderboard without a PGA TOUR victory
Currently T4 in his tournament debut, World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler would move into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with a victory this week regardless of where current No. 1 Jon Rahm finishes
15 players, including four major championship winners, are within four strokes of the lead
Third-Round Lead Notes
4 — Third-round leaders/co-leaders to win the RBC Heritage since 2010 (most recent: Stewart Cink/2021)
13 — Third-round leaders/co-leaders to win on TOUR in 2022-23 (most recent: Scottie Scheffler/THE PLAYERS Championship)
Matt Fitzpatrick (1st/-14)
Fires career-low 63 (-8), highlighted by an eagle-2 at No. 3 when he holed out from the waste area from 149 yards (previous low: 64/five times, including R2/2021 at RBC Heritage; most recently, R1/2022 TOUR Championship)
Holds 54-hole lead/co-lead for the third time on the PGA TOUR (2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard/2nd, 2022 U.S. Open/Won)
Front-nine 30 (-6) matches his low nine-hole score on TOUR (fourth instance/most recent: 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree)
Made five cuts in eight prior starts at RBC Heritage, with three top-15 results (T14/2018, T14/2020, T4/2021)
Owns 69.20 final-round scoring average at RBC Heritage
Has won seven titles on the DP World Tour, while his lone victory on the PGA TOUR is the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts
Joined Jack Nicklaus as the second male golfer to win a U.S. Open and a U.S. Amateur title (2013) at the same venue
Patrick Cantlay (2nd/-13)
2022 RBC Heritage runner-up and World No. 4 seeks to become the first player since Justin Rose at the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to make a hole-in-one and go on to win the tournament (aced the par-3 seventh hole with a 6-iron from 200 yards in the second round)
Last player to win a tournament one year after losing it in a playoff: Ryuji Imada at the 2008 AT&T Classic
Closed out the third round with seven consecutive one-putts to match his most consecutive one-putts to end a round on TOUR (R2/2020 Masters Tournament)
Has only finished outside the top 10 once in five prior starts at the RBC Heritage (T3/2017, T7/2018, T3/2019, MC/2021, P2/2022)
Jordan Spieth (3rd/-12) was on track to post a bogey-free round for the second time in 27 rounds at the RBC Heritage (62/R2/2015), before making his lone bogey of the day at No. 17
2023 Valspar Championship winner Taylor Moore (T4/-11) ranks No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Putting (7.589) through 54 holes
Mark Hubbard (T4/-11) is 9-under on the front nine this week and one of four players bogey-free on the front nine through 54 holes: Jordan Spieth (-8), Sam Burns (-7), Patrick Rodgers (-6)
Six-time DP World Tour winner Tommy Fleetwood (T4/-11) looks for his first PGA TOUR title in his 115th TOUR start; owns four runner-up results on TOUR (most recent: 2019 Open Championship)
With a top-10 finish this week, 36-hole leader Jimmy Walker (T4/-11), competing this season on career money exemption (top 50 in career money), would earn his second top-10 in his last 99 starts on TOUR (T6/2021 Memorial Tournament presented by Workday)
Making his tournament debut and 100th PGA TOUR start, World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler (T4/-11) would move into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with a victory this week regardless of where current No. 1 Jon Rahm finishes
Chez Reavie (T9/-10), who finished T6 at the Valero Texas Open in his most recent start, betters his 5-under 66 from round two by one stroke to record his low 18-hole score at RBC Heritage (37 rounds); previous low before this week’s tournament: 68/four times
Australian Cam Davis (T9/-10) mixes eight birdies with three bogeys (Nos. 11, 12 and 13) en route to 5-under 66; notched two top-25 finishes in two appearances at this event (T25/2021, T3/2022) with final rounds of 68 (2021) and 63 (2022)
Rickie Fowler (T9/-10) sits four off the lead in search of his first PGA TOUR title since the 2019 WM Phoenix Open
With a 7-under 64, Keegan Bradley (T16/-9) ties his low round this season (64/R3/Sanderson Farms Championship)
Coming off a victory at the Masters, FedExCup leader and World No. 1 Jon Rahm sits T21 following rounds of 72-64-69
Zach Johnson (T56/-3), the only player bogey-free through 36 holes, starts third round with back-to-back birdies before posting his first bogey of the tournament at his 39th hole