SANYA, China（April 6 ， 2019）—After eight straight pars at Yalong Bay Golf Club, American Trevor Sluman, who was playing in the final group, found his ball plugged next to the bunker wall on hole 9. In fear of making a bogey, he hit a “miraculous shot” to within a foot of the cup that would lead to birdie. It was that shot Sluman said gave him the boost he needed on the back nine. He followed his ninth-hole heroics with an eagle on No. 13 and three consecutive birdies en route to a 6-under 66 and a two-stroke lead going into Sunday at the Sanya Championship.
“The hole I made my first birdie was the hole I probably came closest to making a bogey. I was in a bad place against the bunker with my feet outside of the bunker. I hit a pretty miraculous shot,” said Sluman. “But I managed to make birdie, so that fueled the back nine, I would say, and got me over the hump to score a great round.”
Sluman, who finished ninth on the Tour’s 2018 Order of Merit, lies at 18-under after three rounds of 67-65-66. He is looking to keep the momentum going Sunday while seeking his first win in a four-day professional event since graduating from the University of Louisville in 2015.
Despite never winning, Sluman has come close on several occasions. Last week, he tied for fifth at the Chongqing Championship, and he recorded a runner-up at last year’s Macau Championship. He’s in position to finally get over the hump.
“I’ve been playing good the last three days. I’ve been playing smart golf, and I haven’t been trying to do anything I’m not capable of and just playing my strengths, which is my driving. I’m just going to keep doing that and keep picturing all those birdies,” said Sluman. “I think if I can just play the way I’ve been playing, we should be OK for tomorrow.”
Fellow Americans Matt Gilchrest (68), Michael Perras (68), and Max McGreevy (67) are also looking to win their first PGA TOUR-affiliated event and are just two strokes behind. Gilchrest came close to winning when he lost in a playoff in a 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica event, while McGreevy had three top-10s on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada in 2017. Perras is contending for the first time in his rookie year after graduating from theUniversity of Houston in 2018.
The Haikou Championship is PGA TOUR Series-China’s third event of the season and will take place April 8-14 at Sunac Haikou 3 KM Golf Club.
Did you know . . .
in 15 career PGA TOUR Series-China starts, Trevor Sluman has five top-10 finishes, including his tie for fifth last week at the Chongqing Championship? Sluman’s career-best performance was his second-place finish at the 2018 Macau Championship.
- The course this week is a par-72 course totaling 7,200 yards.
- After a 5-under 31 on his back nine Saturday, Trevor Sluman moved to a combined 11-under on that side for the week compared to 7-under on the opening nine.
- Max McGreevy had a disappointing finish to his third round. After birdies at the 12th, 13th and 15th holes, to get to 18-under, he bogeyed the 16th hole, parred No. 17 and bogeyed No. 18. McGreevy also bogeyed No. 16 in the second round. For the week, McGreevy is 3-under combined on Yalong Bay Golf Club’s four par-5s. He is tied for second, at 16-under, two shots behind Trevor Sluman.
- Shotaro Ban, Michael Perras and Trevor Sluman were the only players with bogey-free rounds Saturday. Sluman has been bogey-free all week, and the 54-hole leader improved his streak of no bogeys to 60 consecutive holes. He last made a bogey on No. 12 during the final round of the season-opening Chongqing Championship, where he tied for fifth.
- After a bogey at the par-3 third hole in the opening round, Michael Perras has had nothing but birdies and pars since. His bogey-free streak moved to 51 holes, which explains why he’s tied for second, two shots off the lead.
- England’s Michael Skelton had a five-hole stretch of holes on his back nine Saturday where he didn’t make a par. He had bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14, an eagle at No. 13 and birdies at 15 and 16. He shot an even-par 72 in the third round and is tied for 11th.
- China’s Daxing Jin had the biggest fall from one round to the next. He shot a 5-under 67 Friday but dropped 11 shots Saturday, turning in a 6-over 78. Jin is in 60th place. Shotaro Ban improved by seven strokes, his second-round score vs. his third (71-64). He jumped inside the top 10 (tied for ninth).
- Nine players—Trevor Sluman, Matt Gilchrest, Max McGreevy, Michael Perras, Daejin Jeong, Christopher Hickman, Yuwa Kosaihira, Samuel Del Val and Corey Hale—have all shot three consecutive rounds in the 60s.
“I feel pretty good. I played well all day today, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” – Trevor Sluman
“I hit the ball a lot better today than [Friday], and I hit a lot of good putts. But they didn’t really drop on the front nine. In the middle of the back nine a couple of them started to fall, and I made a good number out of it.” – Trevor Sluman
“The grain here has a little bit of influence on the putts, and I probably had about six or seven putts lip out today. But I played solid, so you can’t really think about those and dwell on that. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow because I made plenty of good putts and good shots, so I’m in good position.” – Trevor Sluman on the condition of the greens.
“On (PGA TOUR) Latinoamerica I had a few good chances to win, and I got a good one [Sunday], so I’m looking forward to it. I lost in a playoff last year, so I will draw on those experiences.” – Matt Gilchrest
“I’ve done everything really good in stretches, and only the first round did I put it all together. So I’m going to practice everything a bit and hopefully tomorrow the putts fall just a little bit more. I think we’ll be in a good spot.” – Matt Gilchrest
“I always feel nerves going into a final round, but that’s the good part because guess what, everyone else is, too, and nervous means you are excited and excited means you are playing well. I think that’s kind of the goal” – Matt Gilchrest
“Tonight I’m just going to watch a movie, get some sleep and hit a good tee shot on the first hole and we’ll worry about the rest once we get to it.” – Matt Gilchrest
“I just hit the ball really well today. When I got in trouble, my short game helped me and I made a lot of nice putts for pars out there today.” – Michael Perras
“The front nine I made some nice putts, and on the back I even made some nice putts but they just didn’t drop, and I lipped out on the last hole. Sometimes that’s how golf is.” – Michael Perras
“I’m feeling good. My game feels solid. I ‘m playing well, and it’s nice to be in the last group in the last round. It means you are doing the right things, and I’m looking forward to it.” – Michael Perras