SAN DIEGO — Stephan Jaeger sank a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18 at Torrey Pines South for a one-shot lead in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Friday, moments after Thomas Detry‘s third shot landed well past the hole and spun back into the pond fronting the green, leading to a double bogey that cost him the lead.
It was a tough day of high scores on the blufftop municipal gem high above the Pacific Ocean. Detry took biggest gut punch when he went from a one-shot lead on the 18th tee to dropping two shots off the pace.
Jaeger, a German who lives in Tennessee, had a 1-over 73 and was at 11-under 205 through 54 holes. Matthieu Pavon (72) of France and Nicolai Hojgaard (73) of Denmark were at 10-under while Detry, of Belgium, was 9 under after his 73.
There very well could be a first-time winner on the PGA Tour after the final round. Jaeger has never won on tour, and neither has any of the eight players within three shots of him. The tournament ends on Saturday to avoid conflict with the NFL’s conference title games.
Detry, playing in the final group with Jaeger and Hojgaard, was at 11 under going into the 543-yard, par-5 18th with the backdrop of a brilliant sunset. He hit a 293-yard drive and a 162-yard second shot that left him 92 yards from the hole. After his wedge spun too hard and scooted into the pond, Detry covered his face with his right hand.
“I hit an amazing drive. I drove it great on 18,” he said. “I was just in between 3-wood, hybrid. It’s been a very long day. I think we played in 5 hours 45 (minutes). I had a little bit of mud on the ball. The lie wasn’t perfect, the light was starting to be — it was starting to be dark.
“There was a couple of different factors that were not in my favor,” he said. “Obviously short is a no-go. So we decided to be smart and there we go, I got punched in the face.”
After taking a penalty, he hit to within 24 feet and two-putted.
The pond is known as Devlin’s Billabong for Australian Bruce Devlin, who was in contention for the 1975 Andy Williams San Diego Open before taking seven hacks to get his ball out of the water on his way to a 10.
There were a number of factors for the high scores, including tough pin placements and thick rough that was soaked during a storm Monday that overwhelmed parts of the city.
“I think most of the greens here slope from back to front and there was a lot of back flags,” Detry said. “So, I mean, if you’re coming in with a wedge, you obviously got a lot of spin. It’s almost impossible to get it all the way back there because obviously long miss is no-go as well. I think that was probably one of the main reasons.
“Also, with all the rain and obviously the heat the last couple of days, I think the rough is juicier than ever. Obviously the greens with that many players making the cut and people walking on those greens, the greens being soft as well, it’s not easy to make putts out there.”
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