Sean O’Hair took the long way back to full status on the PGA Tour. Now that he has returned, he wants to make sure he sticks around.
The 31-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, had a superb third round Saturday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, shooting an 8-under-par 63 at TPC Summerlin, and is tied for fifth entering today’s final round at 12-under 201, seven strokes off the lead. It equaled his best round of golf in 14 years playing professionally (he also shot 63 in the third round of the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational).
O’Hair had to go on the Web.com Tour to keep his playing privileges. By finishing 16th at the Web.com Championship last month, he maintained full status on the PGA Tour.
“It was a tough time for me because I was realizing I was going to lose my card,” O’Hair said. “I just had to get my mind right going into those Web.com events.
“But I knew I had an opportunity, and I was able to get my mind right.”
O’Hair started his week in Las Vegas with a 5-under 66 Thursday, then struggled to a 72 on Friday. On Saturday, he shot the day’s best round, which included an eagle at the par-4 15th, seven birdies and only one bogey.
“I’ve been playing some nice golf, and it was nice to come out and get started off quick,” O’Hair said. “That eagle helped on 15.
“I feel like the last month, month and a half or so, I’ve been getting some momentum. I really feel good about my game right now — everything about it, from putting to ball striking. I think it helped me to kind of go back to the basics and simplify my game, and I really feel like I can play some great golf right now.”
■ ON WEBB’S SIDE? — Depending on how one interprets history, particularly as far as the Shriners Open is concerned, Webb Simpson’s four-shot lead should bode well for him.
But his history of leading a tournament after three rounds hasn’t worked out so well.
The largest 54-hole lead in the history of the Las Vegas tournament is five shots, by John Cook in 1992 and George McNeill in 2007. Both went on to win.
Simpson has led four times entering the final round of a tournament, and only once — in 2011 at the Wyndham Championship — did he go on to win. He finished second at the 2011 Zurich Classic, fourth at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship and tied for seventh at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic.
In his two Las Vegas appearances, Simpson, a three-time PGA Tour winner and the 2012 U.S. Open champion, missed the cut (2009) and finished tied for fourth (2010).
■ LOCAL SCORES — Ryan Moore shot 2-under 69 and is in a six-way tie for fifth place at 12 under. But fellow former UNLV stars Charley Hoffman, Chad Campbell and Kevin Penner had mixed results in the third round. Hoffman shot 4-under 67 and is tied for 15th, Campbell shot 70 and is tied for 47th, and Penner shot 72 and is tied for 50th.
After an opening 73, Las Vegas’ Nick Watney fired his second straight 66 and is tied for 30th.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.