The third round of the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship is in the books, and one man has separated himself from the pack as he tries to secure what would be his first PGA Tour win in just the second event of the 2022-23 season.
Mark Hubbard shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to run out to a one-stroke lead over Mackenzie Hughes and three (or more) on the rest of a really interesting top of this leaderboard. That sets the stage for what should be an intriguing Sunday at the Country Club of Jackson as Hubbard tries to close out a life-changing 18 holes, while a host of other players attempt to upend his bid to do so.
Let's take a look at what happened in Round 3 of the Sanderson and look ahead to the final day.
1. Mark Hubbard (-15)
The fall was made for players like Hubbard. The 188th-ranked player in the world is trying to work his way into the majors, along with the big-time events next spring and summer. A win this week would go a long way to making next August's Tour Championship, too. Hubbard has been terrific this week -- first from tee to green and first in approach shots -- and he's trying to improve on a best-ever finish at the 2019 Houston Open, where he T2 behind Lanto Griffin.
Hubbard is one of the fascinating characters on Tour -- his dream foursome is E. Harvie Ward, Walter Hagen and Yohann Benson, and his favorite book is "Ready Player One" -- and he's certainly going to be a fan (and probably Twitter) favorite come Sunday's final round.
Incredibly, Hubbard might be more surprised than anyone about his position.
"I had last week off," he said. "My daughter got my sick, and then accidentally knocked off a kitchen knife off the counter and stabbed me in the foot, so I had a hole in my foot this whole week, and I didn't get to practice at all last week, so I was just kind of coming here trying to get ready for Vegas to be honest.
"I think that probably has a lot to do with expectations being low. That being said, I felt incredible about my game for the last six, seven months, so I'm just kind of trying to go with it and keep those expectations low and just try and hit good golf shots."
2. Mackenzie Hughes (-14)
T3. Garrick Higgo, Scott Stallings, Sepp Straka (-12)
T6. Nick Hardy, Keegan Bradley (-11)
T8. S.H. Kim, Dean Burmester, Emiliano Grillo (-10)
Hughes is interesting because he was among the best players on the PGA Tour last season who didn't win a golf tournament. He's playing solid golf again this week and is second in the field from tee to green behind Hubbard. Hughes has won before and won't be afraid of the moment (if it comes). He's probably the player, along with Hardy, I'm most interested in following on Sunday as Hubbard tries to pull away.
So, if we simply look at who didn't win in 2022, will it inform who the best players will be in 2023? Maybe. The top 5* non-winners in terms of expected wins this past year:— Will Haskett (@willhaskett) September 14, 2022
Cam Young (duh)
*still playing Tour golf
The top of this board is not the most accomplished on the PGA Tour when it comes to winning; Bradley leads the way with four PGA Tour victories. There are likely going to be some shaky hands and a few gasps for air when things get tight late. That will make the golf even more compelling than it would be on a Sunday, and it should provide the Sanderson with a great finish between a lot of intriguing players.
2022 Sanderson Farms Championship updated odds and picks
- Mark Hubbard: +210
- Mackenzie Hughes: 3-1
- Scott Stallings: 7-1
- Sepp Straka: 17/2
- Garrick Higgo: 12-1
- Keegan Bradley: 14-1
- Nick Hardy: 18-1
Hardy is striking the hell out of it, but he has done nothing on and round the greens this week. He's only two back of second (and four of the lead). Heis my pick to shoot something silly on Sunday and overtake a group above him with a lot more experience, but perhaps not as much talent as Hardy possesses.