Ryan Palmer went through a range of emotions that ended with him posting a nine-under 64 for the best round of the week and a share of the lead with Harris English in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Palmer thought he might have been in trouble with a thin fairway metal approaching the green on the par-five 18th Kapalua Plantation Course. It narrowly cleared native grass left of the green and rolled out to 12 feet, and he two-putted for birdie.
His score stood when rules officials determined there was no intent, and no penalty, when he tamped down a divot a few paces away from where his golf ball was rolling after a muffed chip on the ninth hole.
English wasn’t so fortunate with his second shot to the 18th. He was left and came up some 15 feet short of clearing the hazard. His only good break was that a marshal somehow spotted it. Instead of a third shot from 200-plus yards away, he hacked out to 80 feet away and took two tough putts for par and a 66.
They were tied at 21-under 198, one shot ahead of Collin Morikawa, who also flirted with trouble on the closing hole at the Plantation, finished with a birdie and shot 65.
Cameron Smith was the best placed of the Australians, eight shots off the pace after shooting a third-round seven-under. Adam Scott was at 12-under and Marc Leishman 10-under.
It has been 11 years since Palmer’s last individual title on the PGA Tour – and he played some of his best golf on Saturday. His only big miscue was on the par-five ninth when he put his second shot in rough left of the green and used the wrong club for a pitch that came up short and rolled down the slope back into the fairway.
He knew where it was headed and began walking, and stepped down a divot a few paces short of where the ball was rolling. Palmer met with the rules staff and was cleared because there was no intent to improve his lie.
Palmer said when he watched the video, he wasn’t sure what concerned officials. He later added the ball was five feet away and “not even close to where I was at.”