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Crowded leaderboard sets up Shriners Open final day drama

Moving day at the Shriners Children’s Open on Saturday failed to create any separation on the leaderboard, setting up a Sunday shootout with eight players within four shots of the lead at TPC Summerlin.

Setting the pace is Adam Schenk, whose 66 on Saturday took him to 18 under for the week and the first 54-hole lead in a stroke-play event in his career.

Matthew Wolff sits one shot back, with Sam Burns, Chad Ramey and Andrew Putnam two back.

“I haven’t been in this situation a lot,” Schenk admitted. “I’ve just got to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing. I mean, you’re going to have to shoot a low score tomorrow.”

Schenk knows there is plenty of firepower behind him, particularly Wolff and Burns, who is perhaps the hottest player in golf.

“I’m not really sure what it’s going to take tomorrow, but I know that if I keep on doing what I’m doing, I’m sure I’m going to like where I end up at the end of the week,” said Wolff, who lost a playoff to Martin Laird for the title last year.

Wolff’s 65 on Saturday made it a perfect 11 for 11 rounds in the 60s in his career at TPC Summerlin. And with his power, he made it look easy during the third round.

His back nine included an eagle at the par-5 16th, where he hit a 350-yard drive and a pitching wedge to 7 feet. He also hit 3-wood, 7-iron to reach the par-5 13th in two and made birdie, and drove the 290-yard par-4 15th with a 3-wood for another birdie.

“I’m just going to keep on sticking with my game plan and my process, and hopefully it turns out l come on top,” Wolff said of his Sunday approach. “At the end of the day, I’m happy with where I’m at.”

At the other end of the spectrum was Burns, who was not in the best of moods at the end of his third round. Despite hitting all but one fairway Saturday, he posted his worst round of the week (68) as his putter let him down.

He seemed poised to take control of the tournament with birdies on 7, 8, 9 and 11 to reach 17 under. But he would get no further, even giving back a stroke on the easiest hole on the course, No. 16, when his approach found water.

“We’ll go out there tomorrow and see what happens,” he snapped after his round before heading to the practice green for more work.

Putnam said the packed leaderboard won’t give him urgency to get more aggressive on Sunday.

“I’m always going to stay aggressive out here,” he said. “It’s the type of course that you’ve got to go low to win, so that’s the game plan.”

Schenk said he’s also sticking to what’s worked so far and just hopes enough putts drop for him Sunday.

“Everyone’s good enough to win out here. You just have to believe in yourself and not beat yourself, in a sense,” he said.

He was emphatic when asked if that’s the case with him.

“I do, yeah. I started to believe a lot more in the last few months,” he said. “I started to putt a lot better. I’ve always been an okay putter, a little streaky, and I think I’ve started to hit my wedges better, which is a big help.”

At 29, Schenk believes it may be his time to bring a trophy home to Vincennes, Indiana, where he was born and still lives today.

“It would be great to get off to an awesome start, and I have a chance to do that tomorrow,” he said. “Just looking forward to that.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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