Mr Smith Leads Buick Classic
Pat Perez and Ian Leggatt were tied for fourth at 9-under-par 204 while Jerry Kelly was one shot further back at 8-under-par 205.
Smith, who is seeking his first win on the PGA Tour, has put together three solid rounds on the West Course at Westchester Country Club. The 32-year-old has posted two top-10 finishes so far this season.
'It has been a long day,' said Smith. 'Actually, I felt pretty good. I've played very similar all three rounds. I've hit a lot of fairways and I've hit a lot of greens and I've made some putts that I've needed to keep the round going.'
Smith was three shots behind Roberts to start the round and quietly crept up the leaderboard. He two-putted for birdie at the fifth to climb to minus 8 but ran into trouble three holes later with a bogey at the eighth after his second shot rolled into a bunker and he couldn't get up and down.
He recovered with a birdie at the very next hole and made it two in a row with a five-foot birdie putt at the 10th.
At the 13th, Smith landed his second shot 10 feet behind the hole and ran back the putt for a birdie to join a logjam atop the leaderboard at 10-under.
A total of four players were tied for the top spot on the back nine after Roberts ran into trouble with back-to-back bogeys from the ninth. Gossett, who reached 10-under with a birdie at the 10th, was joined by Kelly, who birdied the 11th to grab a share of the lead.
Perez was also tied for first after enjoying a brief two-shot lead. The 26-year-old torched the front nine for six birdies to reach 11-under but a double-bogey at the 12th dropped him out of the lead.
Perez, the 2001 PGA Tour Q-School medalist, recovered at the very next hole with a six-foot birdie putt.
Gossett took the outright lead with a birdie at the 14th but ran into trouble with a bogey at the 16th. Meanwhile, Kelly and Perez also faltered with bogeys.
Smith persisted and took sole possession of first at the par-5 last. He reached the green with his second shot and two-putted for birdie from 40 feet for his first career 36-hole lead.
'The whole reason that I play is to try to win,' said Smith. 'I've played out here 5 1/2 years, and I feel like each year I've gotten a little bit closer to being able to do that. If I could win tomorrow, it would be great. It's something that I've worked for for a long time, and it would be great.'
Gossett, who earned a breakthrough victory at last year's John Deere Classic, has yet to finish in the top-10 in 2002. The 23-year-old carded a one-under 70 to finish alongside Roberts at 10-under-par 203.
'All in all, I feel like I'm improving,' said Gossett. 'So ultimately, I'm really happy and that's what I'm after, is to be more steady and consistent.'
Hal Sutton is also looking for his first top-10 of the season. The 44-year-old has put himself in position for a good finish with a round of 4-under 67 Saturday to move to 7-under-par 206. He was joined by David Toms.
Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink and Jose Coceres were tied for ninth at 6-under-par 207.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia struggled early with three bogeys over his first four holes but recovered to finish with a round of 1-under 70. Garcia moved to 5-under-par 208 alongside Bryce Molder, Briny Baird, Tom Lehman and Peter Lonard.
Full-field scores from the Buick Classic
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.