DeChambeau looks ready to lay down challenge to leader Day
American youngster growing in confidence
Sky Sports Golf, 6pm Sunday
Story so far
The scrambling masterclass from Jason Day continued at Quail Hollow in round three to leave the Australian two shots clear at the top of the Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard with 18 holes to go in North Carolina.
Day has made bunker-play look easy this week, producing a series of exquisite splash shots from sand. Allied to his ace short-game work has been steadily improving ball-striking, and a second consecutive round of 67 has left him in pole position.
Day is odds-on across the board – no bigger than 4-5 – to claim a 12th US Tour title. The former world number one won the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff at the end of January. The 30-year-old was a general 20-1 chance for the Wells Fargo ante-post.
Above Day in the pre-tournament betting were Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, who are seven, nine and six shots behind respectively. Nick Watney, winless since the 2012 CIMB Classic, is alone in second place.
-10 Jason Day
-8 Nick Watney
-7 Peter Uihlein, Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey, Aaron Wise
-6 Sam Saunders, Charl Schwartzel, Johnson Wagner
-5 Phil Mickelson
-4 Adam Hadwin, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Luke List, Rickie Fowler
-3 Rory McIlroy, Chesson Hadley, Francesco Molinari, Michael Thompson, Cameron Tringale, Emiliano Grillo, Kyle Stanley, Peter Malnati
4-5 J Day, 9 P Casey, N Watney, 12 B DeChambeau, 18 P Uihlein, 25 A Wise, 28 C Schwartzel, 33 P Mickelson, 50 S Saunders, J Wagner, 60 R Fowler, 80 P Reed, R McIlroy, 125 bar
Jason Day is a class act and a comfortable frontrunner, but 4-5 is not an appealing price about him successfully finishing the job at Quail Hollow.
This is not the same Day who was dominant in 2015 and at the start of 2016 – a spell in the doldrums dented confidence and he fell over the line at Torrey Pines in January on the sixth hole of a playoff. Alexander Noren had that tournament at his mercy until messing up the 18th in regulation play, handicapped by snail-like playing partner JB Holmes.
Day has been impressive this week, particularly on and around the greens, but there is always a danger that his often loose driving will unravel title hopes. Quail Hollow is a course which typically punishes wayward tee shots severely, and Day may find Sunday pressure results in a misbehaving Big Dog.
The last two times Day has led or co-led going into the final round, he has failed to take the trophy, and the value probably lies elsewhere. He is yet to win a tournament with his latest caddie, Luke Reardon.
Nick Watney has not been in the thick of things for several years and seems likely to struggle in the final twoball alongside Day. Paul Casey is difficult to trust in the heat of a final-round battle, while a late third-round wobble from Aaron Wise suggested it may be too early in his development to take a title of this prestige.
Peter Uihlein fired a third-round 62 in perfect scoring conditions from way off the pace, playing under little pressure, and a place in the penultimate Sunday pairing is a much more demanding challenge. A much better option is his final-round playing partner, Bryson DeChambeau, who has been magnificent since opening up with a first-round 75.
Lack of course experience may have been the reason for the slow start – DeChambeau had only six previous competitive rounds at Quail Hollow under his belt – but he settled on Friday with a 65 and followed up with a Saturday 66. He dropped only one shot each day.
DeChambeau has been in fantastic form, finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Bay Hill, before 38th place in the Masters and third spot in the Heritage. The 2015 US Amateur champion has fully established himself on the US Tour and will not fear his lofty perch on the Quail leaderboard.
From a share of third place, three behind Day, DeChambeau is well in the hunt. He won his maiden Web.com Tour title in 2016, then made his US Tour breakthrough last summer in the John Deere Classic. The 24-year-old is striking his ball with authority and can land the biggest title of his career at Quail.
Charl Schwartzel, Luke List, Rory McIlroy, Chesson Hadley, Emiliano Grillo and Kyle Stanley can threaten the each-way places from deeper on the board, but they have all probably given Day too much of a start in terms of lifting the trophy. DeChambeau is close enough to overcome the deficit.
Final-round twoball punters are pointed towards former Masters champ Schwartzel, who should be much shorter for his match against the overrated Sam Saunders (6.05pm UK and Ireland time), while Stanley should prove too steady for Peter Malnati (4.45pm), who plummeted down the leaderboard in round three.
2pts each-way 12-1 BetBright, Betfred, Hills
2pts 19-20 188bet
2pts 8-11 Hills
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