Final-round preview and best bets for Wells Fargo Championship

It’s been a battle of attrition on the PGA Tour as almost continuous rain in the Washington DC area for the past couple of days and unseasonably cool conditions have had the players donning the water proofs, reaching for the bobble hats and struggling to put together any kind of low scores.

The grind the players faced on Saturday was summed up by the fact that the field average over par was the highest for a round on tour since day four of the Memorial in 2020 with 36 hole leader Jason Day posting a 79.

Once the dust had settled on day three the man who, for the second day running, posted the low score of the day and is in the box seat heading in to Sunday is Keegan Bradley.

Bradley backed up Friday’s 65 with a 67 to post a clubhouse total of 8 under and will take a two shot lead over MAX HOMA into the final round.

The former PGA Champion arrived at TPC Potomac on the back of two straight top five finishes and having played well here before he was on many short-lists coming in to the week. The last of Bradley’s four wins though came in 2018 and as regular followers of the tour will know he is prone to being let down by his weak link, the putter. This week, however, golf being the game it is, he has left his season’s ranking of 151st on the greens behind him to rank first with the flat stick. Add that to a typically strong tee to green showing and it is not hard to see why he is in front.

While it may well be that today is the day Bradley returns to the winner’s enclosure, it will be the first time he has held the outright 54 hole lead on tour in nine years and having failed to close out on each of the three occasions he has led or co-led at this stage on tour I am in no rush to back him at the general 5/4, particularly as there is no guarantee the putter will hold up when it matters the most.

If Bradley is to falter the obvious player positioned to take advantage is Homa. A three time winner on tour, Homa landed his first tour title in this event at the regular host venue of Quail Hollow in 2019 and added his most recent just last fall at the Fortinet Championship.

This week, other than struggling slightly with his scrambling, Homa has done everything superbly ranking first off the tee, seventh from tee to green and fifth in putting.

The rain is set to ease off but even cooler conditions and gusting winds will make conditions really tough again and Homa’s calm temperament looks perfect for the challenge. The 31-year-old is in a great place at the moment having recently found out that he and his wife are expecting a baby boy and I am happy to take him at the odds to bag his fourth PGA title in three years.

Heading further down the leaderboard and in a tie for third place and four off the pace on 4 under we have the unheralded duo of Anirban Lahiri and James Hahn.

Lahiri has produced some strong stuff of late, a run which began with his out of the blue performance at The Players; however he started to show some frustration as he struggled down the stretch yesterday. Hahn meanwhile, a former winner of this event, relied heavily on his scrambling and putting prowess yesterday to keep his chances intact and it is a big ask for him to produce more of the same on ‘pay day’.

The gritty Matt Fitzpatrick who sits alone on 3 under in fifth place is tempting. However with the cold conditions making length off the tee an asset I will head a further shot down the leaderboard and chance one of the tour’s biggest hits in CAMERON YOUNG as our second play.

Rookie Young has been a revelation on tour this season posting three top three finishes already and yesterday with his putter firing, he was one of only a handful of players to shoot an under par round with his 69 vaulting him up the leaderboard and in to contention .

The 24-year-old leads the field from tee to green this week and if the flat stick does cooperate on a course which saw Kyle Stanley come from five back in 2017 on Sunday, the New York native could just post a number and spring a surprise. With three each-way places on offer we have a nice safety net and the 40/1 makes plenty of appeal.

Alongside Young on the leaderboard there are six other players starting on 2 under including Rory McIlroy. The defending champion’s race looked run when he bogeyed his first two holes on Saturday but he bounced back superbly to post a 68 and he will now fancy his chances of bagging this title once again. The layers though are understandably giving nothing away this morning so while it would be no surprise to see him in the mix down the stretch, I am happy to pass him by.

Of the others on the same score, big hitters Luke List and a refocused Matthew Wolff could still have a say while local man Denny McCarthy will bring the momentum of a chip in birdie on his final hole on Saturday to keep him in touching distance.

For me though I will stick with the reliable Homa and chance the big hitting Young alongside him and hope that between them they can get the job done for us.

Posted at 1030 BST on 08/05/22

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