2022 Valspar Championship scores: Davis Riley takes Spherical 3 lead as Justin Thomas sits simply off lead

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Davis Riley made three birdies from powerful spots to shut out the entrance 9 after which stored proper on rolling Saturday till he had a 9-under 62, a event scoring file and a two-shot lead within the Valspar Championship.

And similar to that, a Masters invitation is in view for Riley, a 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie.

He performed earlier than the most important gallery at steamy Innisbrook, most of them there to look at the opposite Alabama alum within the pairing. Justin Thomas did his half with a 3rd consecutive 66, which some other 12 months would have set a event file.

Riley stole the present with a artistic chip-and-run from out of the tough and below a tree, and with a 70-foot bunker shot that clanged into the cup on the fly at No. 9. These had been two of his 9 birdies on the Copperhead course — he had solely 20 putts for the spherical — that helped him flip a five-shot deficit right into a two-shot lead.

“It is at all times enjoyable if you get to play with a very good buddy and Justin clearly is without doubt one of the finest gamers on the planet,” Riley mentioned. “There was positively a degree of consolation there for that.”

Riley was at 18-under 195, breaking by 4 the event file final set a 12 months in the past by Sam Burns, who stays very a lot within the combine to win back-to-back.

Matthew NeSmith, who set the 36-hole file and led by 4 photographs when he made the flip, made his first bogey of the week at No. 10 and dropped three extra photographs. He sprinkled in sufficient birdies and a strong par save on the 18th for a 69.

Riley and NeSmith shall be within the closing group Sunday.

Thomas and Burns (67) had been three photographs behind and have the expertise of profitable. Adam Hadwin, who gained at Innisbrook 5 years in the past for his solely PGA Tour title, shot 70 and was 5 photographs behind.

NeSmith had motive to marvel what occurred. He did every part proper, with birdies on the par 5s, at 15-foot birdie putt on No. 7 and an 8-foot birdie on the ninth to achieve 18 below.

However he started displaying a couple of cracks in his iron sport, going right into a bunker on the tenth, lengthy on a pair of the par 3s and hitting a poor chip that led to bogey on the sixteenth.

Even so, he was proper there with an opportunity to win for the primary time and earn a visit to the Masters, the place his dad used to work as a part-time caddie.

“That is what I’ve dreamed of as somewhat child, popping out right here and enjoying within the closing group,” NeSmith mentioned. “On the PGA Tour the ultimate group is the good factor on the planet, and to have that chance and to play properly was nice. And I simply tried to benefit from the stroll. It is arduous. It is clearly very arduous. However I did a very good job.

“The objective was to complete 18 holes and benefit from the stroll and we did each of these issues immediately, so I am fairly joyful.”

Thomas has gone greater than a 12 months since his final victory, at The Gamers Championship, and stayed within the hunt amid the Riley present. He made a tricky par save to shut out the entrance 9 and matched Riley with a 31 on the again 9 to stay three behind.

Even Thomas received caught up in Riley’s efficiency.

“It was actually spectacular,” Thomas mentioned. “It is a huge second for a rookie — anyone — and he dealt with it like a rock star and made 9 below look very, very straightforward barring a loopy chip-in there on 9.”

The Copperhead course performed barely harder with the strongest breeze of the week on the tree-lined property. Even three days of sunshine could not make the greens too agency, and gamers nonetheless took purpose and scored low. The common rating was 69.7.

Xander Schauffele had a 68 and was within the massive group at 11-under 202, all of them probably too far behind to make up that type of floor.

Copyright 2022 by STATS LLC and Related Press. Any industrial use or distribution with out the specific written consent of STATS LLC and Related Press is strictly prohibited.

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