ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Charley Hoffman would have been happy to get off the 18th hole at Bay Hill with a par and go into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational within one shot of the lead. With one big putt, Saturday turned out better than he could have imagined.
From trampled grass left of the 18th fairway, a tree slightly in his way, Hoffman chose to punch a 7-iron and have it run down the firm fairway. As long as it didn’t run straight and into the water, he figured he would have a chance for par.
The ball settled 70 feet away on the fringe, and Hoffman made the putt for a birdie, a 1-under 71 and a share of the lead with Kevin Kisner.
It was quite a wild ride, even by Orlando’s standards.
Kisner, who made three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn, wound up three-putting from above the hole on the fringe and shot 68.
They were at 11-under 205, three shots clear of anyone else, both in position to win the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the September death of the iconic tournament host.
“To be in a position at Arnie’s event is a special spot,” Hoffman said. “It’s right up there with competing in a major championship, there’s no question. Mr. Palmer was the King. There’s a reason why he had the name. … To keep his legacy going and his event would be something special.”
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