American Kurt Kitayama held off dangerous pushes from Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Saturday to retain the tournament lead.
After a rough start to the day, the leader after 36 holes recorded four birdies on the back nine. A birdie at the 18th pennant allowed him to take sole control of the event nine strokes under par overall, one stroke ahead of Hovland and Scheffler. Kitayama posted a par 72 on Saturday.
He is trying to sign his first victory on the PGA Tour.
The Norwegian Hovland and the American Scheffler took advantage of good outings during the round to climb the competition standings.
After a hole-in-one the day before, Hovland came back with a flawless round of 66 on Saturday to climb 18 spots in the tournament standings. Hovland finished the day with six birdies, including four in the span of five holes on the back nine.
As for Scheffler, the world’s No. 2 player had a rocky start to the round with three bogeys and two birdies over the first 11 holes. However, he took advantage of the par-5 12th hole to find some rhythm and finished his round strong with five birdies on the last seven holes.
After successfully defending his title at the Phoenix Open a few weeks ago, Scheffler is trying to do the same this week in Florida. Scheffler triumphed last season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to win his second title in a matter of weeks.
With a round of 66, the Englishman Tyrrell Hatton has managed to get back into the title race and he is alone in fourth position in the tournament.
Rory McIlroy also offered a good performance with a card of 68, which allowed him to move up to fifth position, three strokes from the lead. Harris English (69) is also in fifth place.
The work day was more difficult for Canadian Corey Conners, who had to settle for a score of 75. Conners committed six bogeys on Saturday and his three birdies did not allow him to stay at the top of the standings, who is six strokes behind Kitayama.
Another Canadian in the running, Adam Svensson did well with a card of 69. He sits 19th in the tournament, while Mackenzie Hughes (74) fell to 59th in the tournament, at +3 for the tournament.