Friday, March 1, 2024

2024 WM Phoenix Open leaderboard, scores: Jordan Spieth among stars contending as Round 3 carries into Sunday

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Saturday’s action at TPC Scottsdale started early and ended late, marking second straight long day of play at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open. Still trying to get back on schedule after Thursday’s extended rain delay, the tournament’s third round will leak into Sunday as play was suspended due to darkness with Nick Taylor topping the leaderboard at 13 under.

A member of the final threesome alongside 36-hole leader Sahith Theegala and Andrew Novak, Taylor was rock steady in the early stages of his third round. And why he wouldn’t he be? Taylor looked Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm in the eyes in the final round of last year’s tournament, and while his solid performance did not produce a trophy that week, it came with a boat load of experience that he is putting to good use.

After tying the course record with an 11-under 60 in Round 1, the Canadian has coasted. His putting has regressed — which was to be expected — and his ball striking has been inconsistent, but still there he sits alone on top.

Taylor won’t be afraid of the moment over the next 30 holes (remember, this is the Canadian who won the Canadian Open), but this tournament may ultimately not be decided by his play but that of his pursuers. And there are plenty of those heading into Sunday. 

The top 10 is littered with PGA Tour winners and major champions, and while some may find themselves as many as five strokes off the pace, they also find themselves with plenty of golf left in their third rounds. Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Si Woo Kim and Wyndham Clark all reside at 8 under with Cameron Young one better and Jordan Spieth at 10 under. 

All of these players, like Taylor, still need to play the back nine in their third rounds. If this stretch of holes at TPC Scottsdale has taught us anything throughout the years, it is to expect the unexpected.

The leaders

1. Nick Taylor (-13)
2. Sahith Theegala (-12)

It’s no surprise these two are the top two on the leaderboard; they’ve carded the two lowest rounds of the week. Taylor’s came in the form of a 60 while Theegala’s came Saturday morning with a stellar 7-under 64. Commanding the 36-hole at the WM Phoenix Open for the second time in his career, the Pepperdine product found himself in familiar territory.

Perhaps that is why his start to Round 3 was so surprising as he endured a nervy beginning to the second half of this tournament. Carding back-to-back bogeys, Theegala settled into his round with a nice approach into the par-3 4th to set up his first birdie of his round. While the delay may have halted the momentum of others on the golf course, it may ultimately help someone like Theegala, who struggled to make solid contact with his full swing as well as speed control with his putter.

Other contenders

T3. Doug Ghim, Andrew Novak (-11)
5. Jordan Spieth (-10)
T6. Harris English, Davis Thompson, Charley Hoffman, Cameron Young (-9)
T10. Billy Horschel, Wyndham Clark, Jake Knapp, Si Woo Kim, Sam Burns, Kurt Kitayama, Justin Thomas, Maverick McNealy, Scottie Scheffler (-8) 

Everyone in this group was in a holding pattern, and that’s because of where they are on the golf course. The front nine at TPC Scottsdale has played just slightly under par on the week while the back nine has yielded birdies in bunches, but as the sun began to set and mark the beginning of golden hour, it was the golden child who made a potentially momentous move.

Spieth exchanged an early birdie on the par-5 3rd with a bogey on the par-4 5th. He stood in that cluster at 8 under, but then his putter took over with an 11-foot conversion on No. 8 and a long-distance call on No. 9 to get to 10 under and only three back.

He will begin his Sunday on the 10th tee and with a chance to roll this momentum into yet another stellar back-nine score. Carding a 6-under 30 in his second round on this side of the golf course Saturday morning, the 30-year-old will look to replicate this magic on Sunday.

“It’ll be 25 holes today and 27 tomorrow,” said Spieth. “Similar type day. I’ll try and go off of how I was feeling most of this round and where I’ve kind of made mistakes in some tee balls in this round in particular when I’ve been driving it so well and trying to make sure I’m energized, pushing off my right side a little better.”

Capacity has been reached

Saturdays at the WM Phoenix Open have become infamous throughout the years. While they have delivered great performances in between the ropes, like Spieth’s 10-under 61 that pulled him out of his career rut, they are mostly known for what happens outside the ropes. Reaching up to a reported 400,000 fans on the grounds Saturday, tournament officials and the Scottsdale Police Department decided to temporarily close the gates for the first time in the event’s history. 

2024 WM Phoenix Open updated odds, picks

  • Sahith Theegala: 3-1
  • Nick Taylor: 9/2
  • Jordan Spieth: 5-1
  • Scottie Scheffler: 11/2
  • Cameron Young: 12-1
  • Doug Ghim: 12-1
  • Justin Thomas: 12-1
  • Sam Burns: 20-1
  • Andrew Novak: 22-1
  • Wyndham Clark: 28-1 

I’m still rolling with Spieth at 5-1 after he was the player we targeted Friday evening. He was brilliant during the back nine of his second round, and if he mirrors that performance even somewhat remotely in his third round, the three-time major champion will be in good shape. Another option down the board that has some intrigue is Si Woo Kim at 45-1. He stands at 8 under and still has plenty of birdie chances ahead of him.

Rick Gehman and Greg DuCharme break down Day 3 of the WM Phoenix Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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