GREENSBORO, N.C. — Si Woo Kim thinks he’s playing like he did four years ago when he earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship.
That could be a really bad omen for those chasing Kim in Sunday’s final round.
Kim had a hole-in-one on the way to 62 and a two-shot lead over Doc Redman and Rob Oppenheim after three rounds of the PGA Tour’s final event before the playoffs.
Kim got going with his ace on the 161-yard third hole and didn’t let up — much like he felt here in 2016.
Every drive that year hit the fairway. Each approach shot was tight to the pin. And any putt rattled the bottom of the cup, he recalled.
“I feel like pretty similar this year,” Kim said.
There’s a critical difference that could make Kim even harder to beat, he believes — he knows how to finish as a champion.
“This time, I already win two times, so that’s the good experience for me,” he said.
Kim, who’s at 18-under after 54 holes, made history three years ago when at 21 he became the youngest winner of The Players Championship. Now, he’s seeking his first victory since — and playing strongly wherever he tees it up.
Kim has broken 70 in nine of his last 10 rounds, including all four at TPC Harding Park to finish tied for 13th at the PGA Championship. He has continued that stellar play at Sedgefield Country Club, where he won his first PGA Tour event in 2016.
Redman had a 63, while Oppenheim set a career low on tour with a 62 in second at 16-under.
Billy Horschel shot a 65 and was three strokes back at 15-under. Mark Hubbard (64) and Jim Herman were another stroke back at 14-under. Herman shot a 61, a career best and tied for lowest round of the tournament.
But it was Kim’s sizzling play that stood out in this one. He almost had a second ace when he clipped the cup on the par-3 12th hole and settled 14 inches away for another birdie.
Kim kept it up with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to take the lead.
Oppenheim was bidding for a 60 when he birdied the next-to-last hole to move to 17-under. But his only bogey of the round on the final hole dropped him back.
The 40-year-old Oppenheim has put himself in line to make the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time, moving up from 145 on the list (only the top 125 start at The Northern Trust next week) to a projected 77. He’d love to add his first tour title to the mix, too.
For Sunday, Oppenheim said he’ll likely call on moments in his career when his back was against the wall and he needed to perform — and did.
“To draw back on some of those times when I’ve had some important rounds and got it done,” he said.
Redman, 22, is also seeking his first PGA Tour win. He joined the tie for second after matching his career low score of 63. Redman took bogey on his opening hole, then had eight birdies the rest of the way.
Redman said he’ll have to stay out of his own head in the final round if he wants to breakthrough to victory.
“I think just allowing myself to play great, not letting myself get ahead of myself,” he said.
The PGA Tour moved up tee times, grouped competitors in threesomes and sent them off on the first and 10th tees to beat the bad weather expected later Saturday.
The early, dry conditions set off a run of low scores that contenders had no choice but to keep up with throughout the round.
In all, 52 of the 77 competitors finished with rounds in the 60s.
There were two 61s, the lowest score this week, from Jim Herman and Zach Johnson, the Payne Stewart Award winner who is striving to make the playoffs after a subpar season. Johnson was projected at 109 in FedEx points after starting the round outside the playoffs at 129.
Past champion Webb Simpson (65) and Peter Malnati were at 13-under.
Tom Hoge, who was tied for the lead after each of the first two rounds, slipped back to 10 shots off the lead with a 2-over 72.
AKRON — Jerry Kelly bogeyed two of the last four holes for another even-par 70 on Firestone’s challenging South Course, leaving him with a one-stroke lead Saturday in the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.
“It’s another tough day. It’s another tough golf course,” Kelly said. “I got a little loose on the back side for the second day in a row and got out of position and made some bogeys.”
The only player at par or better after two days in the PGA Tour Champions’ first major of the season, Kelly — at 2 under — had some company in red numbers going into the final round.
Woody Austin and Scott Parel each shot 67, and Colin Montgomerie had a 68 to get to 1 under on the testing course that was the longtime site of a PGA Tour event and later a World Golf Championship tournament.
Kelly played the back nine in 2 under with three birdies and a bogey to reach 4 under. He countered a bogey on the par-4 11th with a birdie on the par-4 13th, then dropped two more strokes with bogeys on the par-3 15th and par-4 17th.
“I could have made two or three more birdies,” Kelly said. “I was burning some edges. You’re going to make mistakes out here, I know that. I just need to make birdies to counteract those mistakes and limit the mistakes. So, even par is not a bad day. But I didn’t like giving them away.”
Parel rebounded from a bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18.
“Lucky for us, we had a little help off the tee, makes that hole a little shorter,” Parel said. “I hit a big drive yesterday and had a short shot, so I thought if I hit a good one, I would have a wedge in my hand. And I did. I hit a good shot and made a good putt.”
Austin had four birdies and a bogey.
“Really played good today,” Austin said. “Reminded me of a 30-something kid that used to hit it pretty good. I was struggling the first two days driving off the tee and today I drove it really well. And all my good irons kept going and I hit it really close. That’s probably the worst score I could have shot.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez was fifth at 1 over after a 69.
Ernie Els (68), Kenny Perry (68) and Scott Dunlap (69) were 2 over. Fred Couples followed a second-round 75 with a 68 to get to 3 over.
Bernhard Langer (71) and Steve Stricker (73) were 4 over.