Schaeffler eventually settled for a one-stroke lead in Houston

Schaeffler eventually settled for a one-stroke lead in Houston

Houston A key figure in the US Ryder Cup win, now Scotty Scheffler is chasing his own trophy at the Houston Open.

Scheffler fired from 55 feet for a birdie on hole 14, drilled a 10-foot birdie into the next hole and avoided fouls down Saturday’s closing stretch at Memorial Park for a 1-under 69 and one shot to reach the final round.

Scheffler, in his third year on the PGA Tour, leads 54 holes for the first time. He was tied for the lead on the final round at The American Express in 2020 and took third place.

“I’m just going to go out there and try to start well and hopefully put myself first and stay there,” Scheffler said.

Kevin Tay got the lead until he collapsed in the water and had to scramble for a bogey in par-4 17th, then misplaced a 10-foot foot in the locking hole. He shot 73 and was one of five players behind with one bullet.

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Schaeffler was in 7-under 203.

Jonathan Vegas, who has not had a win since the Canadian Open four years ago, scored 68 and will be in the final set with Schaeffler on Sunday.

One of the most consistent performers on the fall portion of the PGA Tour schedule, Matthew Wolff earned a 69th and earned another chance to win for the first time since he took a two-month break from golf earlier this year to reset.

Kramer Hickok had a 70 and was in the group at 204 that included Martin Trainer, the 36-hole leader who struggled to 74.

The group left behind by the picks included Colonial winner Jason Kokrak, who had to play 25 holes on Saturday due to weather delays at the start of the week, and he was all over the place.

Kokrac was eight years old when he returned to play the twelfth hole of the second inning. He played his last seven holes in a level 7 above level and finished with nine shots off the lead. He bounced back with a seven-bird in his third round of 66 to get back in the hunt again.

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Wolff was also on top of the leaderboard at 8 below that until he took a double bogey on hole 17 when his second shot came short and in the water. He took a drop from the penalty spot, hit the same club to 7 feet and missed a bogey shot.

“I misjudged the wind,” said Wolf. “Up until this point, I don’t really know what happened in that hole. Maybe it wasn’t as good a lie as I thought.”

Either way, he’s right in the mix in what should be a convincing finish with scores of players within three shots of Scheffler’s lead.

That includes Trainer, who took a double bogey in the front nine and then dropped consecutive shots at the back nine. But he finished with a 10-foot-tall that left him only one shot behind.

Not bad for someone who has only been playing this weekend for the second time since April.

“I definitely hit it better than I have in the recent past, even today,” Trainer said. “I think I’m past the corner and everything that happens this week will happen. But I am excited about the future, to play well again.”

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Schaeffler has been playing well since leaving his four-year Texas career with a business degree, first on the Korn Ferry Tour and then well enough to qualify for the Masters as a rookie on the PGA Tour. He was also selected for the Ryder Cup, throwing one of the biggest bird tweezers late in the fourth session and then defeating Jon Ram in the singles.

He also participated in the specialties. All it’s missing is a win, and with so many players competing, it doesn’t look easy.

Schaeffler got a chance to win last week, as he battled for the lead until one foul shot led to a double bogey on Mayakoba’s nine defense.

“I feel like I’m golfing hard right now,” Scheffler said. “I hit a fair amount of lanes, a decent amount of greens, and I started rolling really well. There are a few days where maybe the kicks don’t all go in, but it seems like I’ve always hit them around the cup at the right speed so they’re definitely going to start to fall at the end.”

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