Final round preview: Field taking a liberty and going low in The Northern Trust

Liberty National Golf Club offered little defence on day three of the first week of the FedExCup Playoffs.

Like test match cricket of old the PGA Tour is this week having a rest day.

Unlike the cricket, this was never planned.

Instead, the threat of Hurricane Henri hitting New Jersey and New York has prompted the PGA Tour to cancel any thought of play on Sunday and transfer the fourth round to Monday.

It was a bizarre situation, but one the players knew at the start of their rounds.

Jon Rahm started the day at the top of the leaderboard and ended it there, alongside Cameron Smith, on 16-under 197 after a third round of 67.

"I was told that we weren't playing tomorrow while I was warming up and definitely we thought about it," he said. "We thought 'Let's just play today like there's no more golf. Let's try to end it up on top as if it was a Sunday just in case, because you never know, right?'"

As it happens he was caught by the flying Smith who had a putt to shoot a 59, before eventually carding a 60. They lead by one from Erik Van Rooyen who had a low score of his own (62), with Justin Thomas and Tony Finau in a tie for fourth on 14-under.

Rahm was asked what he would do while banged up in his hotel on Sunday.

"I have no idea," he said. "But I can't repeat this enough to myself: If COVID quarantine has taught us anything, it's what to do the whole day cooped up in a room.

"We're at a hotel, so instead of me getting up to get food, I can room service the food. Hopefully the fitness centre and spa are open and we can take advantage.

"At the same time we have a four month old in the room that needs a lot of attention. Take a lot of walks around the hotel, I don't know, but it's definitely going to be a fun family day."

The Spaniard is also aware that more problems might emerge.

"The forecast looks terrible Monday, too," he said. "If I had a one-shot lead at 17-under, I would hope the hurricane comes and stays for two days and we don't have to play again.

"Unfortunately we don't know. We'll see. Weather is hard to predict, right, and we can only take it day-by-day and that's what I'm going to do."

Let's take a look at what the other contenders had to say and also some betting trends.

Winners at Liberty National

Two years ago Patrick Reed held the 54 hole lead (by one) and converted it.

But before that the course witnessed decent come-back performances.

In 2009 Heath Slocum was four strokes back of the lead in a tie for sixth.

And in 2013 Adam Scott was T13th and six blows adrift with 18 holes to play.

Contenders performance at the top of the leaderboard

Rahm is 5-for-8 with a 54 hole lead and it would have been 6-for-9 but for being pulled out of the Memorial with a positive Covid test.

Cameron Smith is 1-for-3 in the same situation, but 2-for-4 if you count the pairs event in New Orleans.

Erik Van Rooyen has won with a lead and also from third and seventh.

Nine of Justin Thomas' wins have come from a lead at this stage, but his last three victories have come after chases.

Tony Finau won on the PGA Tour with a one shot deficit and on the KFT when one shot in the lead.

Rahm looks the bet, even as the 6/4 favourite.

Cameron Smith on his 60 and what comes next

"I haven't been in that situation before. It was completely new to me. It's hard to back up a really good round, so maybe the day off will help me out. I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I've never been in this situation tomorrow. Probably just a little bit of a rest. A round like this usually takes it out of you a little bit, the adrenaline, the highs and the lows. Sleep in."

Erik Van Rooyen on his low round

"Just stoked. Hit the ball great, and then when you add a putter to, it good things happen. Really, really happy."

Tony Finau is taking his putter to the hotel

"100 percent I'm taking it. I need to have a talk with it. It needs to wake up. We've got 18 holes to go. We're in the Playoffs. What will I do tomorrow? The course is closed, so I haven't put too much thought into it. Maybe look at another course to practice. But if the weather is what it's supposed to be, then it's going to be an indoor day and a lot of Netflix and reading and eating."

Justin Thomas is a bit grumpy about the delay

"I'm not sure what that decision was. Weather changes all the time and weathermen are wrong all the time. We're going to look pretty stupid if it's pretty nice tomorrow and we're all sitting in our hotel room, but it looks like the decision was already made.

"I guess there was obviously a lot more decisions that went into it than just that. I'm going to have to figure out what to do because I've never had an off-day in the middle of the tournament. Probably a lot of putting in my room and a lot of eating and a lot of TV watching."

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