Boy wonder Fitzpatrick set to threaten US Tour breakthrough
Fowler and McIlroy may charge from deep
Story so far
Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner, 125-1 and 60-1 respectively ante-post, lead the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a round to play.
The American duo posted 11 under par through 54 holes, pulling clear of the rest of the field at Bay Hill. There is a three-shot gap to those in third place, a trio headed by English duo Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton.
Two of the biggest names in the field turned on the style in round three to move on to the fringes of contention. Rickie Fowler tugged his drive at the third hole into water and made a double-bogey to slip to four over par, but he made seven birdies and an eagle from there to go five under.
Rory McIlroy matched Fowler's round of 65 to go six under and these two superstars will be looking for something similar on Sunday to challenge the leaders. Jason Day slumped to a third-round 75, dropping to 39th place, the Australian's difficult season continuing.
-11 Charley Hoffman, Kevin Kisner
-8 Tyrrell Hatton, Marc Leishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick
-7 Adam Hadwin, Lucas Glover
-6 Rory McIlroy, Kyle Stanley, Greg Chalmers
-5 Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Harold Varner
9-5 K Kisner, 100-30 C Hoffman, 17-2 T Hatton, 11 M Fitzpatrick, 12 R McIlroy, M Leishman, 22 A Hadwin, 25 L Glover, 50 R Fowler, J Rose, 66 bar
Charley Hoffman finished round three strongly and the four-time US Tour champion is a serious title contender. He turned 40 over Christmas and appears calmer than ever.
Kevin Kisner also deserves to be treated with great respect. Kisner loves performing on the east coast and he has been playing rock-solid golf for most of the year.
Kisner, fourth in the Sony Open in his first start of the year and 11th in Mexico last time out, is arguably the most likely champion. He has been full of control this week.
A best-price of 9-5 Kisner, though, is unattractive when you consider that he has won only once on the US Tour at the age of 33 and imploded in dismal fashion the last time he was on a leaderboard in Florida. Stalking the leaders after three rounds of the Honda Classic at the end of last month, Kisner carded a Sunday 77 to drop to 48th place.
If Hoffman and Kisner tread water in front, which is entirely feasible, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy could make a title tilt if they reproduce their Saturday brilliance. Fowler and McIlroy may ultimately pay the price, though, for some sloppy golf over the first two days.
Adam Hadwin, walking with a swagger after making his US Tour breakthrough in last week's Valspar Championship, is worth considering at 22-1 from just four shots off the pace. The best value at this stage, though, may be Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is 11-1 and three behind the leaders.
Fitzpatrick did well to hold his scorecard together with his swing not working perfectly in round three. He had the lefts for much of his round. It was a superbly professional display of grinding to post an under-par back-nine 35 of eight pars and a birdie. His long-game looked in better order over the closing three holes and a strong Sunday can be expected from the super-talented English youngster.
Kisner can edge Hoffman in the final twoball (5.45pm UK and Ireland time), with Fitzpatrick, Hadwin, McIlroy and Fowler charging from deeper on the board to give the leading duo plenty to think about.
Final-round twoball punters are pointed towards Hudson Swafford, a strong, improving ball-striker who will be feeling much happier with his position on the leaderboard than his final-round playing partner Emiliano Grillo.
Swafford fired a bogey-free third-round 69 to go into 24th spot, a shot behind Grillo, who was abysmal in a Saturday 78. Grillo disgraced himself with some club throwing on his way to a quadruple-bogey nine at the sixth hole, outrageous conduct in Arnold Palmer's event, and the temperamental Argentinian must be opposed today.
1pt each-way 11-1 Betway
2pts 6-5 general
2pts 10-11 Coral