Brendon Todd found his putting touch and it helped him grab the lead after three rounds of the Travelers Championship at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell.
Todd, 34, made five putts over 10 feet and had a nine-under 61 on Saturday to help him move to 18 under 192 for the tournament. In his previous two rounds, he had not made a single putt over 10 feet.
“There’s just a lot of scoring holes and the greens are really, really good this year, so people are able to make a lot of putts,” he said.
Todd has a two-stroke lead over Dustin Johnson, who shot a 61 for a tournament total of 16-under 194. Kevin Streelnow is third at 15-under 195 after a 63 on Saturday with first round leader Mackenzie Hughes in fourth place with a 14-under 196 after shooting a 68 for the second straight day.
Sentimental favorite Phil Mickelson, who led at the midway point of the tournament, had a one-under-par 71 on Saturday and slipped to six shots off the pace with a tournament total of 198. Big hitter Bryson DeChambeau is tied for fifth with a 13-under 197.
Todd will be looking for his third PGA Tour win of the season. He won on back-to-backs during the fall season at the Bermuda Championship in November and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico two weeks later.
His 61 is his best round at the TPC-River Highlands by far. He had three rounds of 67 during the 2015 tournament.
“I’ve felt pretty good, especially as I’ve played weeks in a row,” Todd said. “It seems like since the fall, whenever I get a two- or three-week stretch in a row, I tend to be playing better by the end of it. That’s just something I’m using to my advantage now after missing two cuts; I’m peaking in the third week and hopefully I can get it done tomorrow.”
Todd will have to hold off Johnson, a PGA Tour veteran with 20 career wins. A year ago, Johnson was second at The Masters and second in the PGA championship. His last win came in February 2019 at the World Golf Championships in Mexico.
Johnson had nine birdies and six consecutive scores of 3 beginning on the seventh hole and running through the 12th hole. His 61 is his lowest score ever on the PGA Tour. Three times in his career, he scored a 62, most recently in 2015.
“I’m very happy with the way I played. I gave myself a lot of looks,” Johnson said. “Every hole, I felt like I was giving myself an opportunity to make birdie, and I feel like I’m rolling the putter well. So, I just need to get myself in a position where I’ve got a chance to make a putt.”
“I hit a lot of great shots. I think that was probably the biggest key,” he said. “But probably the most important part of the round would have been No. 11, where I made that really good bunker save because I put myself in just an awful spot with a wedge.”
While Mickelson would have liked to shoot lower than a 71, he found some positives to build on for Sunday. “I was a little off today, but I’m having a lot of fun. I mean, this has really been a lot of fun. I haven’t played great this year. I’ve missed a lot of cuts, and the next thing I know my game is starting to come back and I can sense it, and then I play two great rounds, and this is really a lot of fun.”
The largest come-from-behind win at the Travelers Championship is seven strokes set by Brad Faxon in 2005. Mickelson is six shots off the pace.
“We all have days where we’re just a fraction off, where you think you hit a good shot and it doesn’t quite work out, and I felt like I had one of those days,” he said. “Then usually the next day, you come back out and you put it all together. So, it’s not far off.”
Hughes began the tournament with a personal PGA Tour low round of 60 on Thursday with 10 birdies. He would like a few more to contend on Sunday. He trails Todd by four strokes.
“I felt like I actually played quite nice and hit lots of great shots,” he said. “Just wasn’t quite able to score, and if I’d putted just a fraction better … missed a lot of putts from 10, 12 feet. Yeah, (if I) make a few of those and the day looks pretty nice. Hopefully, I make my fair share of putts (on Sunday) and get off to a fast start. It’s nice to play Sunday with a chance (to win).”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no fans are allowed on the course but there are some fans cheering on the golfers. Residents who live in houses that are on the course are at home and put up some cheers when they can.
“I got a few claps out there from the houses,” Johnson said. “There’s some people watching. But yeah, I mean, it’s different. I like the fans. I enjoy playing in front of the fans, especially on the weekends if you’re in the hunt. They just bring a lot more excitement.”
Fans can catch the action online at the PGA Tour website and the PGA Tour on Twitter from 8:15 a.m. through 3 p.m. The Golf Channel will have coverage from 1-3 p.m. with CBS and local affiliate WFSB-3 taking over the coverage from 3-6 p.m.
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With a 7-under 63, Kevin Streelman extended his streak of sub-70 rounds at TPC River Highlands to 13. The record for most consecutive rounds under 70 is 20 set by Stewart Cink from 1995 through 2001.
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Scott Stallings, who tied for seventh at -12, is on track for his best finish in six appearances at Travelers Championship and best result in his 14th start this season. In five previous starts in the tournament, he made the cut just once in 2018, finishing tied for 38th.
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In his third start at the Travelers Championship, No. 1 Rory McIlroy is tied for 18th with a 10-under 200, eight shots off the pace set by Todd. …. Todd has missed just one fairway in three rounds. … Todd’s score of 192 after three rounds is a tournament record. … Golf began early at 7:30 a.m. to avoid thunderstorms that did roll through the area in the late afternoon.
|Brendon Todd||66-65-61 — 192 (-18)|
|Dustin Johnson||69-64-61 — 194 (-16)|
|Kevin Streelman||66-66-63 — 195 (-15)|
|Mackenzie Hughes||60-68-68 — 196 (-14)|
|Bryson DeChambeau||65-67-65 – 197 (-13)|
|Kevin Na||66-66-65 – 197 (-13)|
This story was published on Saturday, June 27, 2020