BMW Championship final round preview: Bryson DeChambeau promises fireworks

DeChambeau shares the lead with Patrick Cantlay heading into the final round at Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore.

Nick Faldo's 18 pars to win the Open at Muirfield in 1987 it wasn't.

Back-to-back eagles on the front nine.

Five birdies.

And back-to-back visits to the water on the back nine.

"It was definitely colourful," Bryson DeChambeau said of his madcap third round 67 in the BMW Championship at Caves Valley.

The Baltimore galleries have been starved of PGA Tour action for nearly 60 years and on Saturday it was almost as if the 27-year-old was putting on a show just for them.

He raced from the blocks: tee shot at the 223-yard par-3 third to 7 feet, converted for birdie; two massive blows at the par-5 fourth to 25 feet, drained for eagle-3; a 307-yard bolt to the green at the par-4 fifth, then into the hole from 53 feet for eagle-2.

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Three holes played in 5-under-par, the field metaphorically in his wake.

Unfortunately, after the turn, his balls took it a step further and created wakes in the literal sense.

Bogey-6 at the 12th was followed by a double bogey-5 at the 13th.

He needed 11 shots to complete those two holes - four more than he had needed to conquer that trio of holes earlier in the round.

The galleries were lapping it up: pure golfing theatre.

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DeChambeau now heads into the final round tied at the top of the leaderboard on 21-under 195 with Patrick Cantlay, whose third round was a rather more controlled 66.

The pair lead Sungjae Im by three, with Abraham Ancer, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns and Sergio Garcia a further shot in arrears. Jon Rahm is alone in eighth on 15-under.

"Front nine I played really good," said DeChambeau. "Obviously going 5-under through five is the way I want to start and if I can get going on that tomorrow, I'll give myself a great chance.

"Just got to clean up the driver from today. If I can do that tomorrow, I should give myself plenty of chances."

Asked what he was most looking forward to on Sunday he said: "Winning a golf tournament. That's what tomorrow's all about. That's why we play golf.

"Obviously I talk about the long drive stuff that I'm doing, but it's ultimately about winning no matter what.

"Hopefully I can go get the job done tomorrow. I've done it eight times. Hopefully, I can make it my ninth. Fireworks tomorrow."

Let's take a closer look at the leading contenders.

Bryson DeChambeau - co-leading on 21-under

Both the pace-setters are two-time winners this season, seeking to become 2020/21's first three-time winner.

DeChambeau has good vibes for the final round pairing because the only other time this duo have played together in a final round was when DeChambeau emerged triumphant in the 2018 Memorial Tournament.

He's converted five of seven 54 hole leads into wins, but just the one of three when it was shared.

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His first PGA Tour win (the 2017 John Deere Classic) came from tied fifth at this stage, but his other seven wins on this circuit, plus his Korn Ferry Tour success in 2016 and European Tour win at the 2019 Dubai Desert Classic, were all from tied second or better. All good news.

The fly in the ointment might be his final round performances this calendar year. He averages 70.67 in round four (70.65 for round one, 68.76 in round two, 69.80 in round three).

Moreover, when he's been in contention at this stage in 2021 he has responded in the following fashion:

Tied second (one back), Palmer Invitational: 71 to win by one.

Solo second (two back), THE PLAYERS Championship: 71 for tied third.

Tied seventh (five back), PGA Championship: 77 for T38th.

Tied fourth (two back), US Open: 77 for T26th.

Tied ninth (three back), Travelers Championship: 70 for T19th.

Tied second (two back), WGC St Jude Invitational: 74 for tied eighth.

That hints at a little recent vulnerability and he'll need to go lower than 70 this Sunday.

Putting look set to remain key this week. Indeed, the top nine on the leaderboard are also top nine for Strokes Gained Putting. DeChambeau ranks third, making over three strokes in each of the last two rounds.

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Patrick Cantlay - co-leading on 21-under

Cantlay and DeChambeau are hoping to end a curious run for 54 hole leaders: not one of them has won since Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship in May (14 events).

This is only his fourth 54 hole lead. The first two came on the Korn Ferry Tour, it was shared, and he carded a final day 66 to win by four. In the second he carded 72 to turn a three shot lead into second place, and in the 2020 Shriner's Hospitals for Children Open he was tied for the lead again, but a 73 left him five blows back.

He's a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and that quartet have all come from off the pace: from four, four, three and six shots back. The latter has a big asterisk next to it, however.

It was true that when played ended on Saturday at this year's Memorial he trailed the leader Jon Rahm by six, but he slept that night in the knowledge that he was the new co-leader with Collin Morikawa and overcame him after a play-off.

He leads SG Putting, but made all the ground in rounds one and two: he lost strokes on the field in round three.

Sungjae Im - second on 18-under

A fifth time he has been in third at this stage of an event; he is yet to break the top two from the position. His four career wins have come from a lead or fifth place. He's sixth for SG Putting, seeking just a second top 10 rank for that category since March.

The chasers

Ancer triumphed in the recent WGC St Jude from four blows back at this point - can he continue to defy his lack of length from the tee? Like DeChambeau his putter has been red hot the last 36 holes.

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McIlroy famously won for the first time on the PGA Tour (in the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship) with a Sunday 62. He's also won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth from seven shots back and the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston from six back. He's seventh on the greens after a hot Thursday.

Of Sergio Garcia's 31 career wins, three have been from four or more shots back at this stage of a tournament. Sam Burns is in relatively new territory and ranks last of the top seven for Putting.

Conclusion

DeChambeau and Cantlay hold the aces and the market reflects that. They are 7/5 and 15/8 respectively. Im needs to continue to have a sensational week on the greens.

Can the poor run of 54 hole leaders continue? Maybe and, if so, McIlroy at 16/1 and Ancer at 25/1 look the two to back at PlanetSportBet.

The more prudent might want to just take Ancer to best Im in their final round pairing at evens.

READ MORE: Patrick Cantlay stays in the bubble in quest to land the BMW Championship

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