Hoffman fires 66, leads RBC Heritage by two


With a record number of players making the 36-hole cut, an impetus was placed on making birdies early and often Saturday at Hilton Head. Here's how things shape up heading into the final round of the RBC Heritage, where a crowded leaderboard has thinned somewhat and Charley Hoffman has grabbed a two-shot lead:

The leaderboard: Charley Hoffman (-11), Webb Simpson (-9), Kevin Streelman (-8), Graeme McDowell (-7), Brendon De Jonge (-7), Ryo Ishikawa (-6), Billy Horschel (-6), Bill Haas (-6)

What it means: After tying for third at the Valero Texas Open, Hoffman is once again in position to contend this week after a 5-under 66 Saturday, eyeing his first PGA Tour title since 2010. The group chasing him includes Simpson, the reigning U.S. Open champ, as well as Horschel and de Jonge, among the best players still seeking their first career PGA Tour victory.

Round of the day: Though he missed the cut in each of his last two starts, Simpson is in position for his first win since last year's U.S. Open thanks to a bogey-free effort Saturday. After three birdies across his first six holes, Simpson added red numbers at holes 10, 11 and 15 en route to a 6-under 65, the lowest round thus far this week at Harbour Town.

Best of the rest: Among the six players to card rounds of 5-under 66 Saturday, four did so without dropping a single shot. In addition to Hoffman, who leads by two, Jerry Kelly is now in position for his highest finish of the season after a round of five birdies and no bogeys, while James Hahn and Ben Crane played themselves off the cut line into the top 25 with matching, bogey-free 66s during the third round.

Biggest disappointment: After opening with a 4-under 67, Jason Day appears to have run out of gas following his close call at Augusta National last week. The Aussie struggled to a 2-over 73 in windy conditions Friday, and during a third round where birdies were flying early and often, Day managed only an even-par 71. Though his round began with three birdies across the first six holes, he was undone by holes 11-14, a four-hole stretch that Day played in 4 over Saturday.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Can Hoffman hold onto his lead and secure his first victory in nearly three years? He will have a strong challenger in Simpson playing alongside him in the day's final group and another former U.S. Open champion in McDowell close behind, while several younger players remain eager to notch their first career title, and along with it one of the first bids to the 2014 Masters.

Shot of the day: After opening with a 4-over 75 Thursday, Matt Jones appeared destined for a short stay on Hilton Head. A 4-under 67 Friday allowed him to make the cut, though, and the Aussie kick-started his third round on the par-5 second hole. After driving into the right hand rough, Jones hit his approach from 207 yards onto the green, 30 feet from the pin. The subsequent eagle putt found the hole, helping Jones to a 3-under 68.