Sweet-swinging Cauley to claim maiden US Tour title
Duncan entering uncharted waters
Story so far
Tyler Duncan started this week as a 200-1 Safeway Open rag, but the US Tour newcomer is top of the leaderboard and only 11-2 for victory with 18 holes to play.
Duncan had played in only one previous US Tour event prior to this week – a missed cut in the 2015 US Open – but rounds of 65, 66 and 71 have left him 14 under par and one shot clear of the rest in the Safeway.
The 28-year-old Web.com Tour graduate has putted superbly over the first three days at the Silverado Resort, California. Duncan edged defending champion Brendan Steele in their third-round meeting, with Steele dropping to a share of third spot.
Chesson Hadley is alone in second, while talented maiden Bud Cauley carded a flawless Saturday 66 to charge alongside Steele in third.
-14 Tyler Duncan
-13 Chesson Hadley
-12 Bud Cauley, Brendan Steele
-11 Emiliano Grillo, Graham DeLaet
-10 Phil Mickelson, Andrew Putnam, Bill Haas, Tony Finau
9-2 C Hadley, 11-2 T Duncan, B Steele, 6 B Cauley, 12 E Grillo, G DeLaet, T Finau, 14 P Mickelson, 22 B Haas, 40 bar
Tyler Duncan is massively inexperienced and unlikely to continue the red-hot putting form which has got him into this lofty perch.
Duncan, who is getting married at the end of this month, has never even won on the Web.com Tour. His promotion to the US Tour was due to consistency and a strong finish to the season, but he has never lifted a trophy of significance and is the world number 454.
Chesson Hadley shrugged off a slow start to round three to stay well in the hunt for a second US Tour triumph. Hadley has won four times on the Web.com Tour, including twice this year, and seems much more of a Safeway Open threat than the leader.
Defending champion Brendan Steele has battled for this title in round four in each of the previous two years, so nobody is better prepared for the challenge ahead. He failed spectacularly on the back nine in 2015, then edged to victory by a shot last year.
Hadley and Steele must be respected, course-winner Emiliano Grillo is in with a shout from just three shots behind, while Phil Mickelson, Bill Haas and Tony Finau are a classy trio who will fancy their chances from just four off the pace.
The best value option, though, is arguably Bud Cauley, who has showcased impressive tee-to-green control all week and looks well capable of delivering an overdue US Tour triumph. Cauley has gone 46 holes without dropping a shot, a stretch starting with a birdie at the ninth hole in round one, and he can approach round four with supreme long-game confidence.
The small greens at Silverado make approach-shot difficult, but Cauley, who finished ninth on the US Tour last year for strokes-gained-on-approach, is pinpoint with his irons.
Had his putter behaved in round two – he missed six birdie putts of 15 feet or shorter – Cauley would be frontrunning today. Two shots behind a vulnerable leader is a nice position, though, and the 27-year-old must have every chance of making his breakthrough if he can retain his composure.
In-running punters looking to get involved at this stage should consider the 6-1 Cauley. Racing Post Sport followers are on the ante-post headline selection at 50-1, so have not need to get further involved. Punters with a decent bet on Cauley who are looking for cover-shots should focus on Hadley, Steele, Grillo and Mickelson.
Final-round threeball punters are pointed towards dual Major champion Zach Johnson, who should enjoy the sunny, slightly breezy conditions today, and can outclass Tom Hoge and Ted Potter in the 7.30pm contest.
The final threeball of Duncan, Hadley and Cauley is scheduled to tee off at 8.30pm UK and Ireland time.
2pts 10-11 bet365