A pair of Spaniards, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, produced Saturday’s best rounds of 5-under-par 67s in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
Each jumped from a tie for 29th into a tie for seventh with Anirban Lahiri.
Cabrera Bello played the last 12 holes in 6-under, rebounding from bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6, both par-4s, with birdies on Nos. 7, 8 and 9. Then, he went bogey-free on the back nine. In his previous 10 rounds at Doral, he has been under par only three times and was a collective 17-over.
“The biggest difference from [Friday] is I drove better off the tee,” Cabrera Bello said. “I didn’t get myself into so much trouble and from 10 to 15 feet, I hit a lot of good shots, give myself chances and I did make big putts.”
After a 1-over 73 Thursday and even 72 Friday, Garcia played a crisp third round sullied only by a bogey on the par-4 14th.
“It’s just a couple of putts have dropped that have been lipping out the first couple of days,” Garcia said.
Rory McIlroy turns 26 on May 4. McIlroy has 11 PGA Tour victories. The only golfers with 12 PGA Tour victories before the age of 27: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“To be mentioned with them, yeah, of course it means something,” McIlroy said. “You’re being mentioned with two of the best players to ever play the game. It’s flattering, and it’s special.
“It’s up to me to go out and do it. I haven’t done it quite yet. There’s still a long way to go. There’s 18 holes to negotiate out there [Sunday] and, hopefully, I will join that illustrious company [Sunday] night. But I need to concentrate and play a good round of golf.”
There was a little driver business on the 18th hole for McIlroy. Before he teed off, McIlroy was shown on TV tightening his adjustable Nike driver. It’s within the rules to tighten a club but not make any lie or loft adjustments during a round.
Officials wanted to make sure there wasn’t any funny business.
“I just put it on the ground, and I guess as I went to lean on it to tee it up, I felt or it sounded as if there was like a little pebble underneath the clubhead or something,” McIlroy told the media afterward. “I looked and there wasn’t. I shook it and the head, just the notch on the adjustable hosel had just come loose, so I could tighten it again. I just had to make sure I could, and [playing partner Adam Scott] reassured me that it happened to him a couple of times and I could do that.
“But there was a rules official waiting for me in the scorer’s teant just to make sure that I had not changed it at all.”
TOUGH PAR 3
McIlroy didn’t bogey the par-3, 227-yard No. 4. Second-place Dustin Johnson did. So did Scott. As did Phil Mickelson, tied for fourth with Bubba Watson and Danny Willett.
The fourth, the site of two holes-in-one in last year’s third round, played the toughest in this year’s third round by average score, .464 over par.
It yielded only 12 birdies, tied for fewest with the par-4 484-yard 14th, and was bogeyed 53 times, second to the nasty 18th (63). There were 20 double bogeys, by far the most, and three triple bogeys, second to the 10th.
If you want to argue past performance best predicts future behavior, hide the scoresheets from this year’s Cadillac Championship.
J.B. Holmes dominated the first three rounds of the 2015 event, taking a five-shot lead into Sunday after tying the course record with a first-round 62. This year, Holmes goes into the final round 5-over, tied for 52nd, mainly because of a 5-over 77 in the first round.
While Holmes limited himself to one bad round, 2014 Cadillac winner Patrick Reed, tied for 59th at 9-over, followed his 5-over first round with a pair of 2-over 74s. And 2012 champion Justin Rose was above par the first two rounds before his 72 Saturday. He’s 4-over, tied for 46th.