Final round preview of the Dunhill Links Championship and Sanderson Farms Championship

The best quotes, stats and social ahead after 54 holes of this week’s PGA and European Tour events.

It's been a big week for the European Tour with the annual visit to the Home of Golf for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship revived after a one year Covid-hiatus - and it's all set for a fine conclusion.

Beyond the top of the leaderboard, there is also a team competition and the knowledge that next year's Open heads to St Andrews so the field is looking for inspiration or just added knowledge ahead of that Major challenge.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is making a second start of the 2021/22 season at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Let's take a closer look at both events.

Dunhill Links Championship

The state of play

Danny Willett leads on 14-under after opening laps of 67-69-66.

That leaves him three shots clear of a four-way pack on 11-under that is made up of Richard Bland, Shane LowryTyrrell Hatton and John Murphy.

Tournament specialist Joakim Lagergren is tied with Jeff Winther and Daniel Gavins a further stroke back.

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Quotes

Danny Willett: "Early on, a decent bit of wind and downwind you always feel like you should take so many chances. Then as soon as you get on the 12th tee, you know you've got pretty tough conditions coming straight into the wind on the last six holes. Really had a go on the last six and gained a lot of shots coming in doing that.

"It's nice that the fans are back this week, the format is back, we missed it last year. I think it's great to have everyone here. We're getting cheered on. Great to be back on British soil. Another 18 holes to go, and we'll see how we do."

Tyrrell Hatton: "Got off to a very nice start, and then just hit a couple of loose shots, just lost all momentum, to be honest. I think from the 8th hole, just never really got anything going our way. I think there were only a couple of times where I had a realistic birdie chance, and I hit a good putt, and it bobbled off line or whatever.

"It would be very special (to win a third title here). I actually haven't won with my dad (his playing partner), so it's a shame that we can't play again tomorrow. We haven't quite made it in the team event. That little run on the back nine seemed to hurt us, both of us. But obviously I'll go out there tomorrow and give it my best, and that's all you can do."

Shane Lowry: "There's a bit of fatigue, all right. Obviously, it's a bit of calm now from last week (at the Ryder Cup) to this week, but it's still a big tournament. I'm a competitive person. When I come to play, I want to do well. So, I'm out there giving it my all.

"Managed to play some nice golf over the last three days, I'm in a nice position now going into tomorrow, and I look forward to it.

"Anybody that's involved in golf or into golf and has been here knows that this place is probably one of the most special places in the world, if not the most special place. So, to be able to lift the trophy on that green will be incredible."

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The leading contenders

Danny Willett - has finished second and fifth in the event (his only top 20s from nine starts), plus sixth in an Open on the Old Course. He's 5-for-8 with a 54 hole lead. But the only time he led by more than one shot, as today, he blew it: leading by three, he finished the week fifth.

Tyrrell Hatton - missed his first two cuts in the tournament and has since won twice, finished second and was T15th in 2019. He seven wins have come from being tied second or better at this stage.

Shane Lowry - finished third and sixth in the event (two of six top 25s from his last seven starts at it). His five career wins have come from leading (three) or tied third (twice).

Richard Bland - if anything proves how well the British Masters champion is playing this year it his record in this event: 15 starts, no top 15, 10 missed cuts ... and now he has a live chance of winning.

Stats

Eight of the last 10 winners ranked top 10 for hitting Greens in Regulation.

Every single one of the 19 winners was tied seventh or better after 54 holes and 18 were tied fifth or better.

But a whopping 16 were tied second or better (11 were in the lead or sharing it).

Conclusion

Willett ranks sixth for GIR and is alone among the leaders at having the chance to maintain that stat's winning trend. Add in his three-shot advantage and decent record with a lead, and at odds against he looks a strong option.

Sanderson Farms Championship

The state of play

Sahith Theegala, chasing an outstanding rookie win, leads on 18-under 198. Cameron Tringale, Denny McCarthy, Sam Burns and Cameron Young are pursuing him on 17-under, with Seth Reeves and Trey Mullinax a further shot behind.

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Quotes

Sahith Theegala: "I really haven't had time to think about it, it's pretty wild."

Cameron Tringale: "Obviously I've been out here a long time, I haven't won, but I love competing and I just want to see if I can keep beating guys and you know you compete every day. Sunday, they give the trophies away, but you're really out there grinding and you're playing against yourself. That's kind of the fun part for me. I'm kind of a journeyman to this point and I'm enjoying the journey."

Sam Burns: "You can only control what you can control, so really just trying to put a solid round together, trying to have a game plan, attack the golf course and then somebody goes out and shoots 62 tomorrow and wins the golf tournament, I mean, I can't control that. So hopefully that's me, but you never know."

Denny McCarthy: "I think just have an aggressive mindset. Just come out and not be scared of anything, honestly. It's going to be a challenge tomorrow, I'm sure I'll feel a little nervous warming up or first tee jitters, whatever, but I think just come out and swing freely, not be scared. I've got nothing to lose, it's my fifth year out here, looking to win. I'm a really competitive person and I want to win out here and tomorrow's a great opportunity to do that."

The leading contenders

Theegala - new territory for the rookie, but he has been highly touted. He finished tied fourth and tied sixth at the end of the 2021 KFT season ahead of T47th in the season opener.

Tringale - a resolute performer at this level, but yet to claim a first win. He's been top three with 18 holes to play eight times in his career. He's gone backwards every time.

McCarthy - a first PGA Tour top three 54 hole position, but he has been in that state four times on the second tier and claimed the win once.

Burns - a different golfer in the last 18 months, consistent on Bermuda greens, a winner at the Valspar Championship.

Stats

The seven winners at the Country Club of Jackson - and the one man to miss out in a play-off - all ranked 11th or better for Putting Average.

Seven of those eight also ranked 13th or better for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

The last four winners were all leading after 54 holes: Garcia was sharing it, the three before him were clear of the field. All seven winners were tied fifth or better at this stage, six of the seven were within one blow of the lead.

Conclusion

The Putting Average rankings through 54 holes are: Young first, Tringale second, Theegala 10th, McCarthy 14th, Burns 20th. Meanwhile, SG Tee to Green: Burns first, Theegala fourth, Young fifth, McCarthy seventh, Tringale 14th. 

You could make a case for all of them, but only Theegala, Burns and Young also rank top 10 for SG Off the Tee (McCarthy and Tringale are outside the top 25). Burns is 10/3, Theegala 7/2 but Young might offer value. The stats really like him.

READ MORE: What next for USA's Ryder Cup stars after their demolition of Europe?

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