Keegan Bradley, Grayson Murray share lead at Sony Open. It’s hardly a two-man race


HONOLULU (AP) — Keegan Bradley birdied his final two holes Saturday for a 7-under 63 that moves him into a share of the lead with Grayson Murray at the Sony Open, far from a two-man race.

Six players were within three shots of the lead, which is typical for Wiley. It was so chaotic on a beautiful afternoon on the coast of Waikiki that at some point in the third round 10 players had at least a share of the lead.

Getting some degree of separation was difficult, although Bradley and Murray at least got some separation.

Bradley hit a cut 6-iron to 6 feet on the back pin for birdie on the par-3 17th, and then his tee shot on the par-5 closing hole missed a bunker. He had enough lie to land on the green for a two-putt birdie.

This took his score to 14-under 196. Murray soon joined them, going up and down for 64 from a bunker on the left side of the 18th green.

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He was one shot ahead of Sam Stevens, who had a score of 63.

Those still in the mix include Chris Kirk (67). He won The Sentry last week and, despite finishing three shots behind, may still have hopes of joining Justin Thomas in 2017 and Ernie Els in 2004 in the Hawaiian swing.

Former PGA champion Bradley will be trying to win for the third time in the last 16 months. He’ll be in the final group with Murray, a raw talent who went to three colleges and battled alcohol problems three years ago, including an incident in Honolulu.

He feels he has changed his path and has taken a lot of inspiration from Kirk, who had to step away from golf in 2019 to deal with alcoholism and depression.

“I’ve obviously been vocal about alcohol use in the past. I have now been sober for over eight months. I have a beautiful fiancée who I love very much and she’s very supportive of me, and my parents are very supportive of me, too,” Murray said.

“Once I got out here inside the ropes, everything became a lot easier, with everyone in my circle and really pulling for me,” he said. “They’re with me whenever I have tough days – and I still have tough days, but I feel a lot more at peace inside the ropes now.”

The group of 11-under 199 includes France’s Mathieu Pavon, one of 10 players to earn a PGA Tour card through the European Tour points list last year. Pavone made five consecutive birdies at the end of his second round and was among the leaders on Saturday until he settled for a series of pars and a bogey on the back.

And then there’s Japan’s Taiga Semikawa, who is playing on a Sony Open sponsor discount. He is among 21 players named Taiga on the Japan Golf Tour. It doesn’t translate to “tiger” but it is pronounced that way, and that’s no coincidence.

Most of these players are 26 years old or younger, which dates back to 1997, when Tiger Woods broke records and brought new energy to golf.

“Yes, I was named after Tiger Woods and I adopted his way of playing,” Semikawa said through a translator. “I grew up watching his aggressive style, and I think it suits my personality and is something I try to replicate in my game.”

One example was a fairway bunker on the 14th that Semikawa knocked down by 10 feet. This began a streak of four birdies in his last five holes.

Semikawa never bothered to look at the leaderboard during or after his run. He celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday and looks like he is having the time of his life.

For many others, Sunday will be a time to make birdies and keep moving forward.

“It’s a tough thing because you can’t just stare at the leaderboard all day,” Bradley said. “If you make a bogey or a few pars in a row, you can get to 12th in a second. I’ve got to go out tomorrow and probably hit another pretty low shot to win.”

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