Power makes a move, but Scheffler and Rahm poised for Sunday showdown in Phoenix

Mark McGowan

Seamus Power (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

A five-under 66 saw Seamus Power jump from the cutline into the top 20 on the leaderboard, while Rory McIlroy will be frustrated after he failed to capitalise on a day where very few lit it up.

Power’s round was, in fact, bettered only by Sam Burns’ 64, with firm greens the course’s main defence with the wind down.

McIlroy, out ahead of Power despite being two strokes better off, once again found inconsistency costly. After piping a drive 351 down the right-hand side of the fairway, giving him the best possible angle to the pin on the tenth – his first – he had just 34 yards to the hole. Despite measuring 451 yards on the scorecard, the tenth is still a drive and wedge shot for most of the field, though few would’ve taken McIlroy’s line.

For context, Brian Harman and Lucas Herbert, grouped with McIlroy, both had 130 yards plus for their seconds. A heavy wanted pitch left him 23 feet for birdie and he two-putted, following this up another regulation par at the next, this time missing a ten-footer. Statistically, it’s a putt that the vast majority of pros miss, but knowing he needed a low round to get himself back in the tournament, and possibly, to remain world number one.

It didn’t materialise. Six birdies on the day was one positive to take, his opening two of the day came at the par-5 13th and 15th but a double-bogey in between cancelled those out.

He’d bogey 17 after a wild tee shot found the left-side hazard on the driveable par-4 and his bogey there took him onto plus figures for the day.

He’d rally on the way home, post four more birdies against two bogeys, and reached the clubhouse with a one-under 70.

Power, also starting on the back, was one of the day’s biggest beneficiaries of moving day inspiration.

A missed 25-footer for par on his third hole was the only blemish on his card, and six birdies saw him make a significant jump up the leaderboard with a round of -5.

The move takes Power up to T20, eight strokes behind leader Scottie Scheffler, but a good finish in this PGA designated tour event is quite valuable both in ranking points and financially.

The defending champion is poised for another Superbowl Sunday showdown at TPC Scottsdale in his first title defense, Scheffler takes a two-stroke lead in bid to become the seventh player to successfully defend his WM Phoenix Open title and first since Hideki Matsuyama in 2017

Scheffler had battles of his own on the day, and aside from an incredible 47-foot birdie putt on the second hole that he unceremoniously canned, it was a round where a lot threatened to happen and very little actually did. Still, he shot three-under, an impressive tally despite it all.

Coming hot on his heels are Canadian Nick Taylor and Jon Rahm who sit on -11, two shots back. Taylor cannot be discounted of course, and he’s been a constant presence near the top of the board since Thursday when he led the tournament despite facing the elements at their worst.

Nor of course can Spieth or Hadwin at -10, but the possibility of these two duking it with the world number one ranking, along with $3.6 on the line is an enticing one.

Rahm, who shot 68 himself, could tell a similar tale. No ground gained on the leader, but now tied second as opposed to T3 after round two, but like Scheffler, a lengthy putt unexpectedly holed was the highlight of his round. This came in front of a 16th hole crowd who seemed a little subdued for a Saturday at the Phoenix Open, but they did come alive when Rahm curled in a beauty there.

But ultimately, nobody took firm control, and it’ll be all to play for in tomorrow’s final round.


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