ORLANDO – Charley Hoffman entered the third round with the lead, lost it after a rough start on Saturday and then finished with a flourish to remain tied atop the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla. Hoffmann caught up with Kevin Kisner with three consecutive birdies on his final three holes for a 1-under-par 71 and a 54-hole total of 11-under 205.
Kisner ascended into the lead with a 68 at Bay Hill but could have finished the round alone at the top if not for a bogey-5 on the 18th hole when he three-putted from the fringe.
“I’ve hit the golf ball really well, given myself a lot of opportunities, and made a lot of putts from inside of 10 feet, which that seems to be the recurring stat of the guy leading the tournament,” said Kisner, who has one career win on the PGA Tour. “So I feel really comfortable on these Bermuda greens and want to keep rolling the rock tomorrow.”
The co-leaders were three shots ahead of Englishmen Tyrrel Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick and Australian Marc Leishman. Hatton moved into contention with a 67 that featured eight birdies and three bogeys, Leishman shot a 71 and Fitzpatrick had a 72.
Canadian Adam Hadwin, who won the Valspar Championship, and Lucas Glover were another stroke back at 209 after a 69 and 72, respectively.
Rory McIlroy climbed into a tie for eighth at 210 after firing a sizzling 65 that included birdies on the final two holes.
Rickie Fowler also shot a 65 and was at 211. After a double bogey on No. 3, Fowler recovered with seven birdies and an eagle. He shot a tournament record-tying 30 on the back nine.
Hoffman got off to a disastrous start with two bogeys. A fourth bogey at the par-4 15th hole dropped him four out of the lead.
But then came the late rally. Hoffman closed the round with a 70-foot birdie from the fringe on No. 18.
“Stole one on 18,” Hoffman said. “Pull-hooked a 3-wood down there and then just tried to chase it up the front and was able to make it from the front of the green.
“Obviously, I’m going to feed off those last three holes going into tomorrow and sort of go from there.”
First-round co-leader Emiliano Grillo fell off the pace with a 6-over 78 that left him in a tie for 19th at 213. Defending champion Jason Day struggled to a 75 and was tied for 39th at 216