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Hayden Buckley soars into lead at Sony with 2 eagles

January 14, 2023; Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Hayden Buckley hits his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Hayden Buckley delivered a pair of eagles on the back nine Saturday, including one at the par-5 18th hole, and took a two-shot lead at 15-under par through three rounds of the Sony Open at Honolulu.

David Lipsky, Chris Kirk and England’s Ben Taylor all were tied for second place at 13 under. Kirk scrambled for a 2-under 68 at Waialea Country Club after he entered the third round with a one-stroke lead.

Andrew Putnam and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim were tied for fifth place at 12 under.

Buckley’s first eagle of the back nine came at No. 10 when he holed a wedge from 133 yards at the par-4 hole. At the 532-yard, par-5 closing hole, Buckley put his 221-yard approach shot to within 3 feet and made the eagle putt to deliver a 6-under 64 for the second consecutive round.

Buckley said it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

“I think the firmness of the course is very difficult,” Buckley said. “Just because you hit it straight doesn’t mean it’s going to be in the fairway and the rough is up pretty heavily, so I think I’ve just hit the right shots at the right time.

“I think the putter has been there,” Buckley added. “I know I’ve made a lot of feet of putts, but I just put it in the right places.”

Buckley will open Sunday’s final round in search of his first PGA Tour victory. The 26-year-old has won once on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 after winning once on PGA Tour Canada in 2019.

Taylor shot a 5-under 65 in the third round after a 66 in each of the first two rounds. He closed the third round with four birdies over his final seven holes.

“I would say my scrambling was the best today,” Taylor said. “I holed a few good putts (like) I have done all week, kind of holing out quite well for par, which has kept the rounds going. Didn’t hit that many fairways or greens today, so certainly scrambled well and put ourselves in a good position.”

Lipsky’s round of 4 under was his second consecutive 66. He had four birdies and a bogey on the back nine, overcoming his bogey at 17 with a birdie at 18.

“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” Lipsky said. “My game is in a good place. I’m making enough birdies. We’ll see what the weather is like (Sunday). I think it’s going to be a touch windier so scoring might be more difficult but looking forward to the challenge really.”

Kirk, a two-time Sony Open runner-up, failed to capitalize on his lead after two rounds when he double-bogeyed his first hole of the third round. He scrambled back with three birdies before the turn then had a bogey at 13 with birdies at 14 and 16.

–Field Level Media