CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Xander Schauffele shot a 3-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead over good friend and playing partner Patrick Cantlay in the final round of the Travelers Championship.
Schauffele had a total of 17 under 193 at TPC River Highlands. Cantlay shot 63.
Rookie Sahith Theegala finished third at 14 under after a round of 64, and Kevin Kisner had a 66 to move to 13 under.
Schauffele started the day at 14 under with a five stroke lead. The Olympic champion birdied the second hole for the third time this week and birdied another at the No. 6, part of a career-best 48-hole run without a bogey.
But he put his tee shot at 13 in the water and briefly tied for the lead after a bogey. He broke his minor birdie drought at 16, then hit the pin on his approach at 17 and sank another.
“I would love to have that tee shot on 13,” he said. “For the most part, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to protect a lead, especially when it comes to five shots and it’s easy to get comfortable.”
Cantlay’s bogey-free round was the best of the day.
Schauffele and Cantlay have been close friends since being paired up at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia and they combined to win the Zurich Classic this season.
“If only it was still a combined score this week, we would do well,” joked Cantlay. “It’s always nice to be with him, whether he’s on my team or not. I’m going to go tomorrow and try as hard as I can and drop the chips where they can.
Schauffele is looking for his sixth individual title and the first since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. He is also aiming for his sixth consecutive top 20 finish. He and Cantlay tied for 14th last week at the US Open.
“I was looking forward to playing with Pat in a final round,” said Schauffele. “We are not paired very often in regular tournaments, only in team ones. So there’s a certain level of comfort that we have playing with each other and hopefully that pays off and hopefully we can get a lot of birdies.
Theegala had an eagle on 13 to go with four birdies. The 24-year-old Californian hit his second shot on the par-4 17th over the course’s signature lake about a foot from the pin, briefly tying Schauffele for the lead. But he missed the last hole.
He’s looking to become the 18th player to earn his first tour victory in Connecticut. Ken Duke was the last to do so in 2013.
“I’m definitely going to be nervous, definitely excited,” he said. “Every week I’ve been here, I feel more and more comfortable.”
Former U.S. Junior Champion Michael Thorbjornsen shot a 66 to put himself in contention. He started the weekend at 7 under, just the third amateur to make a PGA Tour cut in 2022. The Stanford star is in a group of four tied for seventh place, but said he didn’t feel not much pressure.
“One thing that might help is winning or finishing second or third. I don’t get paid anyway, so it’s another tournament for me,” he said. “It’s just another round for me and I’m just going to try to go out there and do the same thing I did today.”
Harris English, who is trying to become the second player to successfully defend his title here after Phil Mickelson’s victory in 2002, shot a 69 and was part of a group under 10.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler was also in that group after shooting a 65. He started the weekend nine shots behind Schauffele.
“Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow and do something crazy and we’ll see what happens,” Scheffler said.
First-round co-leader Rory McIlroy (72) got into trouble early Saturday, hitting his tee shot on the No. 2 from a nearby tree and into tall grass 108 yards across the fairway to the right. After shooting 39 on the back nine on Friday, he shot 36 on the front nine on Saturday and finished 2 over for the day and 6 under for the tournament, 11 shots off the pace.
There was also a buzz during the tournament on Saturday around a player who wasn’t even at Cromwell anymore.
Jason Kokrak was disqualified Friday after throwing his last shot on the ninth hole over the green and the fence behind. Kokrak, who would have missed the cut anyway, left the course without replaying the shot.
William McGirt, who played in the same group, said Kokrak just didn’t see any point in finishing the holeshot.
“He was like, ‘I’m not going to hold anyone back,'” McGirt said. “He didn’t storm off the golf course.”