Matthew Wolff heads pack hunting Adam Schenk: Final round preview of the Shriners Children’s Open

Last week’s winner Sam Burns is also right in the mix with 18 holes to play at TPC Summerlin.

"I had a hunch, yeah."

Simple words from Matthew Wolff after he carded a third round 65 to move into solo second at the Shriners Children's Open, just one shot back of the third round pace-setter Adam Schenk.

22-year-old Wolff carded a third round 65 last week as well, at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and it was that effort that provided the clue about his potential to get in the mix at TPC Summerlin this week as well.

"I was hitting it really good last week," he said. "I've been working on the same thing with my coach for a little bit now and it's the first time we kind of stuck to one thing.

"Last season was kind of a struggle, I was trying to find a bunch of different stuff in my swing and we came to the kind of the realization that we don't need to be changing too much, just one small thing and for me it's just set up.

"When I feel comfortable over the ball, and feel like I'm athletic, I'll hit the ball well.

"Right now I'm pretty confident with where I'm at in my game. My putting, my chipping, every part of my game feels really solid so I'm excited for tomorrow."

His quest for a second PGA Tour title will require him to pass the untested Schenk, and both of them will be pressed by last week's winner Sam Burns, who shares third with Andrew Putnam and Chad Ramey on 16-under. Sungjae Im is alone in sixth a further shot adrift.

Let's take a look at the leading contenders and the key stats.

Schenk - leading on 18-under

As he said himself: "I haven't been in this situation a lot." He once held a Korn Ferry Tour 54 hole lead (he finished second), but on the PGA Tour he had been tied second, tied third and tied fifth in the past at this stage - every time he went backwards on Sunday and is yet to break 70 in the final round.

The most recent example was in August so might be fresh in the memory bank and prove to be a lesson. The added good news is that it was just over the Nevada/California border and at altitude like this week.

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"You're going to have to shoot a low score tomorrow," he said. "The weather's going to be pretty scoreable. Someone's going to shoot low and hopefully it's going to be me. I'll stay patient and wait for my stretch of hopeful birdies. If they come, great. If not, just do the best you can do."

Wolff - solo second on 17-under

As we've read, he shot a 65 last week which set him up nicely for this week. And he likes the course, finishing T18th on debut in 2019 and thrashing a 61 on his way to tied second last year.

"I haven't made a lot of birdies on the front nine, but the back nine I seem to really turn it on," he said. "I just feel like with the two par-5s and the drivable par-4 I can really get after it, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to get off to a hot start.

"I feel really comfortable here. There's a couple of stressful tee shots out there, but for the most part I feel really good with my 3-wood and that's kind of the club that I use around here and I'm hitting it really good, finding a lot of fairways."

He has led with 18 holes to play (1-for-3), but has never before been second.

Burns - tied third with Putnam and Ramey

Flush off his excellent win last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, his second victory of the calendar year, he looks the greatest threat for the top two and kept it simple with his post-round thoughts.

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"I feel like the game's in a good spot," he said. "Go out there tomorrow and see what happens."

His only experience of being third at this stage was poor - he finished T18th. It's an extremely small sample, however. In the last 15 months he has nine times been top five at this stage and he's won two of the last four.

Summerlin stats

In the 13 editions since the tournament settled for 72 holes all played at TPC Summerlin only one man has burst from the pack.

That was Smylie Kaufman in 2015 who thrashed a brilliant 61 to leap from T28th and seven blows back of the pre-final round lead.

Before, and since, then every winner was tied fourth or better and 10 of the 13 eventual champions were tied second or better at this stage.

Perhaps most startling is the fact that only two of the 13 were more than one blow back with 18 holes to play.

Of the last six winners, all of them ranked top 20 for Putting Average for the week and five of the six were top 12 for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

Conclusion

All of the top five are currently ranking top 20 for Putting Average, but the best are Schenck (second) and Burns (ninth). (Im ranks a woeful 46th.)

Schenck ranks 15th for SG Tee to Green with Wolff, Ramey and Burns all comfortably in the top 10 (Burns leads the field).

Three of the last five winners ranked top two for the Par-4s. Schenck leads that category and Burns is second (Wolff is 19th).

It looks good for Jack Kelliher's pre-tournament pick of Sam Burns.

He might not be in the top two, but he's just one blow back of second, has all other stats on-side and is in great form off last week's win. Wolff's excellent course form and confidence is a threat, but he needs to improve on the par-4s.

READ MORE: Can Jon Rahm overhaul a six shot 54 hole deficit in the Open de Espana?

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