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Phoenix Open 2020: Tony Finau Holds 1-Stroke Lead After Round 3

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 01:  Tony Finau plays his shot from the tenth tee during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 01, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On a day that saw several golfers go low, Tony Finau ended Saturday's third round of the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona, as the solo leader.

Finau and Webb Simpson went shot for shot much of the round, but Finau's nine-under 62 left him with a one-stroke lead over Simpson, who shot a seven-under 64. Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard, courtesy of PGATour.com:

1. Tony Finau: -16 (62)

2. Webb Simpson: -15 (64)

T3. Hudson Swafford: -14 (66)

T3. J.B. Holmes: -14 (70)

T5. Xander Schauffele: -13 (66)

T5. Adam Long: -13 (66)

T5. Scott Piercy: -13 (68)

T8. Mark Hubbard: -12 (64)

T8. Byeong Hun An: -12 (70)

10. Nate Lashley: -11 (69)

The round started with Finau in 10th place, but he posted seven birdies and one eagle en route to the top.

According to the PGA Tour's official Twitter account, Finau matched the best round of his professional career Saturday:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

✅ His 3rd round of 62 or better on TOUR this season 👏 Ties his career low ☝️ Solo leader @TonyFinauGolf made the most of Moving Day @WMPhoenixOpen. https://t.co/ZiP8o0zoZS

The 30-year-old was a star basketball player in high school, and his biggest highlight of the day came on the 16th hole when he nearly made an ace before converting a birdie putt to tie for the lead while wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey in honor of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Crowd-pleaser @TonyFinauGolf. 👏 He's tied for the lead @WMPhoenixOpen. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/5WDKE6AYjA

While Finau parred each of his final two holes, his tie for the lead became a solo lead when Simpson had to settle for bogey on the par-four 17th.

Although Simpson's day ended in disappointing fashion, he made a ton of progress after starting the round in eighth place. Most impressively, he aced the par-three 12th, which put him in a tie for the lead at the time:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

An ACE from @WebbSimpson1! 🎯 He's tied for the lead @WMPhoenixOpen. https://t.co/sDkVHLBYTs

Simpson then made a birdie putt two holes later to take sole possession of the lead:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

New solo leader. @WebbSimpson1 rolls one in. 🐦 #QuickHits https://t.co/Pe3h7xq29t

Harry Higgs doesn't figure to be much of a threat Sunday since he is in 28th at seven under after his three-under 68 in the third round, but he was among the most exciting players on the course Saturday.

In addition to saving par with a chip-in on No. 5, Higgs sunk a ridiculous 82-foot eagle putt on No. 17 after driving the green:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

That reaction. 😂 Why putt when you can just chip it in. Right, @harryhiggs1991? https://t.co/w2nMxwEmw6

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

From 8⃣2⃣ FEET ‼️ What an eagle from @harryhiggs1991. 🦅 #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/40kZokPyW4

Many of the golfers who entered the third round near the top of the leaderboard struggled to stay there Saturday.

J.B. Holmes was the leader after two rounds at 13 under, but he could only muster a one-under 70. Despite his struggles, he has a chance to bounce back and win the tournament Sunday.

The same can't necessarily be said for Wyndham Clark and Billy Horschel, who were second and third, respectively, when the round began. Clark shot a three-over 74 and Horschel shot a two-over 73, putting them in a tie for 16th at nine under.

Some of the bigger names in the tournament who are lagging behind entering the final round include Jon Rahm (11th), Bubba Watson (16th), Justin Thomas (21st) and Rickie Fowler (40th).

Much of the attention during Sunday's fourth round figures to be on Finau and Simpson.

Finau is in search of his second career PGA Tour win and first since 2016, while Simpson will look to win for the sixth time overall on the PGA Tour and the first time since 2018.    

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