Korea's ironman Sungjae Im jumped on route 66 to keep co-leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay firmly in his sight at the BMW Championship on Saturday as countrymen K.H. Lee and Si Woo Kim produced stirring third round fightbacks to keep alive hopes of qualifying for the TOUR Championship.
Chasing a second PGA TOUR win, the 24-year-old Im produced another rock-solid display highlighted by seven birdies at Caves Valley Golf Club for an 18-under 198 total for solo third place. He will enter the final day three back of DeChambeau and Cantlay, who fired rounds of 67 and 66 respectively for 21-under.
Lee, who broke through for his first TOUR win in May, soared with two eagles for a 66 which pushed him up to tied 12th place on 12-under. He needs a projected ninth place finish or better on Sunday to qualify for the FedExCup Finale, the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club next week for the first time.
Similarly, Kim's 65 which featured eight birdies meant he will also have a fighting chance to break into the top-30 of the FedExCup standings and get to East Lake. Currently tied for 40th place at Caves Valley, he requires a projected 15th place finish or better while Im is virtually assured of a third trip to the Season Finale. Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, meanwhile, carded a 72 for tied 26th place and has already punched his eighth straight visit to East Lake.
Im ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and sixth in Putting on Saturday as he enjoyed another birdie binge to keep up his good from in the penultimate event of the 2020-21 Season. He holed birdie putts of 17 feet and six feet on the 17th and 18th holes to end his day on a high note. "I hit good drivers and iron shots. But my putting was really good today and helped me make many birdies and finished with a good score," said Im, who has four top-10s this season.
Knowing that he needed a low round to keep his season alive, the 29-year-old Lee eagled the par-5 second hole with a glorious three wood approach to within two feet and then rolled in a 48-footer for another eagle on the par-5 12th hole. His current projection sees him lying in 32nd position on the FedExCup standings, two rungs outside the TOUR Championship.
"For the first one, I hit a great 3 wood and it landed just next to the hole for a tap-in and for second eagle, I putted from off the fringe and it luckily found the hole. I am happy with those two eagles in one day," said Lee.
"I started my day with birdie, eagle, and I could start with a good momentum. I struggled with my putting a little bit after that but I got back on track on the back nine for a good score. This will hopefully give me momentum for tomorrow. One thing that I was a little disappointed with was not being able to add more birdies over the last three holes. I will try to make more putts tomorrow to try and make it to the TOUR Championship."
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, August 28, 2021
Weather: Partly Sunny. High of 87. Wind NNE 5-10 mph.
Bryson DeChambeau 68-60-67—195 (-21)
Patrick Cantlay 66-63-66—195 (-21)
Sungjae Im 67-65-66—198 (-18)
Rory McIlroy 64-70-65—199 (-17)
Abraham Ancer 66-67-66—199 (-17)
Sam Burns 64-70-65—199 (-17)
Sergio Garcia 65-67-67—199 (-17)
Things to Know
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay are among six players who have won twice this season; no player has won three times in 2020-21
DeChambeau, Cantlay will play together in the final group in a final round for the second time; they previously played together in the final grouping in the final round of the 2018 Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, which DeChambeau won; each has won the Memorial Tournament (Dechambeau in 2018, and Cantlay in 2019 and 2021)
21-under par equals the second-lowest 54-hole score to par in a FedExCup Playoffs event
A 54-hole leader/co-leader has not won since Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship, a span of 14 events. Only 15 players in 45 individual stroke-play events (33 percent) holding at least a share of the third-round lead have gone on to win, compared to 19 of 35 in 2020 (54 percent)
After rounds of 64-66, World No. 1 and defending champion Jon Rahm posts a 2-under 70 and sits five shots off the lead; the six-time PGA TOUR winner has never successfully defended a title
Three of the four players who qualified for their first BMW Championship are inside the top 12: Sam Burns (T4), Erik van Rooyen (T10), K.H. Lee (T12); other: Cam Davis (T22)
Current projections of player(s) to move into top 30: Sergio Garcia
Current projections of player(s) to move outside top 30: Max Homa
Third-Round Lead Notes
11 Third-round leaders/co-leaders since 2000 at the BMW Championship to go on to win
(most recent: Justin Thomas/2019)
Third-round leaders/co-leaders to win on PGA TOUR in 2020-21
(most recent: Phil Mickelson/PGA Championship)
Bryson DeChambeau (T1/-21)
Holds the 54-hole lead/co-lead for the fifth time; is 3-for-4 in converting to victory
Eight-time PGA TOUR winner seeks to become the first three-time winner this season (2020 U.S. Open, 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard); is one of six multiple winners
Seeks third FedExCup Playoffs win (2018 THE NORTHERN TRUST, 2018 Dell Technologies Championship), which would move him to fourth-most Playoffs wins (6/Dustin Johnson, 5/Rory McIlroy, 4/Tiger Woods)
Seeks to reclaim the lead in the FedExCup standings; held the lead a total of 20 weeks over the season, the most of any player in 2020-21 (next: 9/Patrick Cantlay)
195 marks his second-lowest 54-hole total on TOUR (best: 194/2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational)
Made back-to-back eagles (Nos. 4-5) for the first time in his career; four eagles marks his most in an event and 19th of the season (TOUR leader: Cam Davis/20); ties the record for most eagles in a FedExCup Playoffs event (four times); became the fourth player to record back-to-back eagles this season (most recent: Jordan Spieth/2021 THE NORTHERN TRUST/R2)
Career-best finish in the FedExCup: 3rd/2018 after entering the TOUR Championship as the FedExCup leader
Making his fifth start in the BMW Championship, with a T19 in 2018 his best finish; the BMW Championship is one of three tournaments he has made four or more starts without a top-10 finish (5/Masters Tournament, 4/BMW Championship, 4/The Open Championship)
Leads the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (5.176), Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (5.820) and Driving Distance (326.7); Ranks third in Strokes Gained: Putting (7.542)
Patrick Cantlay (T1/-21)
Holds 54-hole lead/co-lead for the second time (2020 Shriners Children's Open/T8); Marks ninth lead/co-lead after any round; has never gone on to win after a holding at least a share of a lead after any round on TOUR
Seeks fifth PGA TOUR victory and third of the season to