LAS VEGAS — Patrick Cantlay came within one putt of a 59 on Saturday, instead matching his low score on the PGA Tour for a share of the lead with 20-year-old Tom Kim going into the final round of the Shriners Children’s Open.
If the third round was any indication, anything goes on the TPC Summerlin high above the Las Vegas Strip.
Cantlay had five birdies in his opening six holes, and then poured it on again down the stretch with five birdies in a six-hole stretch that put him on the cusp of his first sub-60 round.
He had a birdie putt from just inside 25 feet that broke sharply to the right, and Cantlay played it a little too high of the cup.
It was his first 60 on tour as a pro — his other 60 was at the 2011 Travelers Championship as a 19-year-old amateur after Cantlay finished his freshman year at UCLA.
Cantlay has never shot 59 even at his home course of Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, California, and he smiled when asked about the stress of his final putt.
“I would have liked to have made it, yeah,” he said.
And then his thoughts turned to a final round, which shaped up as a dandy. Kim is a budding star, having won the Wyndham Championship and delivering big moments in his debut at the Presidents Cup.
He birdied five of his last six holes, sticking a wedge to 2 feet on the 18th, for a 62 that put him in a tie with Cantlay at 19-under 194.
They were three shots clear of a Mito Pereira (67) and Matthew NeSmith (63), with defending champion Sungjae Im (63) another shot behind.
For Cantlay, a good performance in Las Vegas is familiar.
He picked up his first PGA Tour victory in a playoff at the TPC Summerlin in 2017. He twice was a runner-up in Las Vegas. His worst result was a tie for eighth in 2020 when he had a share of the 54-hole lead.
“I think I drive the ball in the fairway a lot here, and I’m not afraid of hitting driver on most every hole, so I have a lot of wedge into greens, and I have a lot of looked,” Cantlay said. “If I make a bunch of putter, I can shoot low scores.”
He’s been doing that all week, only on Saturday he kept hitting it a little closer and made most of the mid-range putts he had been missing. Cantlay putted for birdie on every hole, and that birdie chance for 59 on the 18th was his second-longest putt of the round.
But then, Cantlay also knows what to expect at Las Vegas, and his work is not done.
“No lead is safe around here,” he said.
Pereira started the day with the lead, shot 67 and wound up three shots behind. Kim played bogey-free and needed a big run at the end to keep pace.
“We haven’t run away with it,” Kim said. “I have to play well tomorrow. I’m sure a lot of guys are thinking that.”
There were nine scores of 64 or better on a perfect day for scoring. The course average for Saturday was 67.9. Perhaps another example of the low scoring was Cantlay. His group of NeSmith and S.H. Kim played so well that Cantlay never had hit first from a tee box on the back nine.
NeSmith had a 63 and S.H. Kim had a 64.
Cantlay already has won twice this year — one was with Xander Schauffele in the team event in New Orleans — and a victory Sunday would move him to No. 2 in the world.