Honda Classic 2021: Matt Jones Overtakes Aaron Wise for Lead with 3rd-Round 69

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Matt Jones of Australia reacts to his tee shot from the seventh hole during the second round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

The leaderboard remains crowded with 18 holes left to play at the 2021 Honda Classic, but Matt Jones is in the driver's seat after the third round.

Since opening the event with a 61 on Thursday, Jones has played the past two days at one under par to enter the final round at 10 under overall.

Wise had his worst performance of the tournament Saturday with a five-over 75, pushing him three shots off the pace and into a tie with J.B. Holmes for second after leading by three shots coming into the third round.

C.T. Pan had the round of the day with a five-under 65 that vaulted him 38 spots up the standings into a tie for fourth place.


2021 Honda Classic Leaderboard

1. Matt Jones (-10)

T2. Aaron Wise (-7)

T2. J.B. Holmes (-7)

T4. Sam Ryder (-6)

T4. C.T. Pan (-6)

T4. Cameron Tringale (-6)

T7. Keegan Bradley (-5)

T7. Sungjae Im (-5)

T7. Robert Streb (-5)

T7. Zach Johnson (-5)

T7. Brice Garnett (-5)

T7. Stewart Cink (-5)

Full leaderboard via PGATour.com


Wise looked like he was on track for another low score early in the round. He had two birdies through his first four holes that increased his lead to six shots. Both of his birdies came on putts longer than 10 feet, continuing a trend from the first two rounds.


9 putts made over 10 feet so far this week for @AaronWise_. He's 2-under thru 5 with a 6-shot (!) lead. 😳 #QuickHits https://t.co/WvYpErwonn

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Aaron Wise started the day with a three-stroke lead. Five holes in, he's doubled that differential. Lot of golf left to be played, obviously, but six shots is a nice cushion to have.

The sixth hole proved to be a negative turning point for Wise. His tee shot landed in the cart path, forcing him to take a drop, and his second shot landed in the bunker on the left side of the green.

A bogey on the seventh hole dropped Wise to one over for the day and opened the door for the field to catch up with him. The 24-year-old seemed like he had settled down from that moment, but bogeys on No. 10, 15, 17 and 18 pushed him out of the lead with work to do Sunday.

Jones used the back nine to make a move. His birdie on No. 14 put him in a tie with Wise at 10 under, where he would stay for the rest of the round. The Australian native hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the 2014 Shell Houston Open.

Per PGATour.com, Jones ranks 36th on tour with a 69.25 scoring average in final rounds. He did have his worst final-round score last week at The Players Championship (74). It was his first final round over par since October.

Jones is facing heavy competition in his quest to leave PGA National Resort and Spa with a victory. Pan played his first bogey-free round of the tournament.

Holmes has been quietly going about his business all weekend. He hasn't had the one dominant round, like Wise and Jones, but has just put together steady performances each day. The 38-year-old had his second consecutive 67 after opening with a 69 on Thursday.


Back-to-back. 🐦🐦 @JBHolmesGolf moves within 3 shots. 👌 #QuickHits https://t.co/cOnsmFonAo

This has been a disappointing season for Holmes so far, with just one top-50 finish and three missed cuts in seven events coming into the Honda Classic.

If Holmes can repeat what he's done the past three days, he could get his first win since the Genesis Open in February 2019.

The winner of the Honda Classic hasn't led after 54 holes since Rickie Fowler in 2017.