Golf

Chesson Hadley leads by 4 entering Palmetto Championship final round

Chesson Hadley finished off his third round Sunday morning, shooting a 68 for a four-stroke lead at the rain-delayed Palmetto Championship.

Abbotsford, B.C., native Nick Taylor sits tied for 45th

Chesson Hadley plays his shot from the 13th tee during the third round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree on Saturday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Chesson Hadley finished off his third round Sunday morning, shooting a 68 for a four-stroke lead at the rain-delayed Palmetto Championship.

Hadley was among four players who couldn't complete the 18th hole at Congaree on Saturday as lightning and severe storms hit the area. Hadley closed with a par to stand at 14-under 199, four ahead of Harris English.

WATCH | Hadley extends lead at Palmetto Championship:

Chesson Hadley sees lead double at Palmetto Championship

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Chesson Hadley rattled off three birdies in four holes to extend his lead to 4-strokes at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. 1:01

Hadley had a chance to extend his lead upon his return but missed a 5-footer for birdie that lipped out.

"I'm in a great spot, no questions asked. I've got to keep my head down," he said. "The pedal is accelerating, we're not braking."

English, whose round also was delayed, made par on the final hole for a 67. He and Hadley will be paired together in the final round Sunday afternoon.

Garrick Higgo of South Africa, who completed his third round before the stoppage, was alone in third at 8 under.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, paired with Hadley on Saturday, had been tied with Higgo before play was halted. But Johnson put his second shot over the 18th green and made bogey for a 73. He was part of a group of four players at 7 under, seven shots behind.

Hadley is seeking his second career PGA Tour win and first in seven years.

The tournament at Congaree filled in for the RBC Canadian Open, which was cancelled for a second straight year due to COVID-19.

Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, 11th in the world, and Bo Van Pelt were tied for fifth at 7 under. Hatton shot a 68 while Van Pelt had the day's lowest score at 66.

Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., shot a 70 and remained the top Canadian at 3-under 210, ahead of Roger Sloan (74) of Merritt, B.C. Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., and David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., missed the weekend cut.

Hadley, the PGA Tour's rookie of the year in 2014 whose only victory came that same season, moved back on top with three straight birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes. The last was a perfectly struck putt from 32 feet away to separate from the field.

No one could catch up on a hot, steamy South Carolina Saturday, leaving Hadley 18 holes, uh, 19, from his second career tour victory.

Hadley had missed 10 cuts in his last 12 tournaments and acknowledged he wasn't sure what to expect at Congaree, filling in for the RBC Canadian Open which was called off due to COVID-19 for a second straight season.

So Hadley went out and shot 11-under 131 his first two rounds — his best start to a PGA Tour event since 2016 and his first-ever 36-hole lead on tour.

He found that form again when he needed it most on the back nine to regain the lead after surprise challenger Lee (more on that later) had birdies on four of the first five holes to move in front at 11-under.

Hadley held firm after his opening bogey before his birdie run left him on top once more.

Lee is a 31-year-old from Columbia, Maryland, who had to qualify last Sunday to make the field for only his third start on the PGA Tour. He was four shots behind Hadley and in the next-to-last group when his early surge took him to the front.

But Lee, whose biggest accomplishment may be the NCAA Division III individual title he won in 2013 for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps combined college team, could not maintain his poise during one of the biggest rounds of his career with three bogeys and a double bogey over a five-hole stretch of the back nine.

English may be the most capable of spoiling Chesson's chances. English has won three times on tour, including this past January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

He was bogey free with five birdies through 16 holes. But he missed an 8-footer to save par on the 17th. He has a birdie try on the 18th when English returns to complete the round.

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