Recap of the day
Round Two: First up, there was the second lap to finish up after play was suspended Friday night due to darkness. It looked like this when play was halted:
After the completion of 36 holes, the leaderboard showed:
Gooch dropped a shot to leave Malnati with a two-shot halfway lead while Scott Harrington moved into a three-way tie for second. But the biggest change belonged to Nick Watney, who bogeyed all four of his remaining holes to drop from -8 to -4.
Round Three: With the top four on the halfway leaderboard failing to break par, Lanto Griffin surged 16 spots up the standings and into solo first. Mark Hubbard emerged as his nearest challenger while Cameron Tringale, last year's runner-up Beau Hossler and 36-hole pacesetter Peter Malnati ended in a tie for third. With six others at 8-under, the top 11 were separated by just three shots.
Revised outright betting:
11/4 Griffin, 6/1 Hubbard, 7/1 Hossler, Tringale, 12/1 Malnati, 14/1 Ortiz, 16/1 Cook, 20/1 Wu, Straka, Gooch.
Sunday weather forecast
It looks set to be a fairly steady day with temperatures in the mid/high 70s, a mix of sunshine and cloud, and wind of around 5-7mph.
Leaders after at 54 holes
Lanto Griffin (65, 205) – The low round of the day actually ended with bogey when birdie would have taken Griffin home in 29. Birdied half the holes and rode a hot putter (ranks 2nd for SG: Putting this week).
Mark Hubbard (69, 206) – Solid stats wherever you look but can he keep it going for one more round? Ranks 6th for Putting and 14th Tee to Green after three days.
Cameron Tringale (68, 207) – Took six swishes on the two front-nine par 5s but roared back up the board with four closing birdies and five in his last six. Like the two above him, he'll be seeking a first PGA TOUR win in Sunday's closer. T1 for Scrambling this week.
Beau Hossler (68, 207) – Another seeking a first win and this would be sweet after being Poultered in R4 last year when the title looked to be his. Ranks 1st for SG: Putting although just 72nd in DA.
Peter Malnati (73, 207) – A two-shot halfway lead became a two-shot 36-hole deficit after bogeys at two of his final three holes. Five bogeys and hit just ten greens.
Fate of the favorites
Henrik Stenson (MC) – He told us he wasn't playing well and it showed. Missed the cut by two.
Cameron Champ (71, 215) – Two-over after 12 but rallied late to shoot under par. The damage was done with a second-round 75. Now ten off the pace.
Brian Harman (MC) – Missed the cut by four!
Daniel Berger (MC) – Missed the cut by eight!!
Lanto Griffin: "Everything felt pretty good. Got off to a good start. I struggled at the end of the second round this morning. Hit it to an inch on three and then made about a 15, 18-footer on four, which kind of settled me in. I doubled 18 to finish the second round. Kind of erasing that kind of settled me in."
Mark Hubbard: (asked which part of his game he's most confident in) "Probably my irons, they've become the best part of my game. If it stays with the steady breeze that we've had all week, I'm pretty good at flighting the ball, so I kind of want it to blow as hard as it can tomorrow because I think that will give me an advantage. I think the biggest thing for me is I've just got to hit fairways tomorrow."
Road to victory at Golf Club of Houston
2018 Ian Poulter – R1: 123rd, R2: 23rd, R3: 1st
2017 Russell Henley – R1: 6th, R2: 2nd, R3: 3rd
2016 Jim Herman – R1: 32nd, R2: 8th, R3: 1st
2015 J.B. Holmes – R1: 2nd, R2: 6th, R3: 18th
2014 Matt Jones – R1: 18th, R2: 3rd, R3: 4th
Notes: Recent history appears to give plenty of hope to the chasing pack. Holmes and Jones were both six shots back after 54 holes while Henley was four off the pace. That said, Holmes is the only winner at the Golf Club of Houston to be outside the top four thru three rounds (he was 18th and won with a 64).
Fate of the 54-hole leaders at the Golf Club of Houston – where did they finish?
Notes: A total of 23 players have shared the 54-hole lead at this venue and seven have gone on to lift the trophy. We've seen two conversions in the last three editions.
Focus on – Lanto Griffin
Griffin is clearly extremely comfortable out there at the moment after reeling off four straight top 20s over the last month - 13-11-17-18. He achieved the T11 at the Sanderson Farms with a closing 66 and T13 at Greenbrier via a Sunday 67. As for trying to convert third-round leads, we have no evidence of it at this level as he's never been in this position. However, Griffin has led after 54 holes two times before - once on the Korn Ferry and once on the Latinoamerica. In the latter he sealed the deal with a 68 while in last year's Nashville Golf Open on the second tier he took second place with a 72. That was after a holding a three-shot lead with 18 to play. Oh, the name Lanto.... "So my parents named me after a spiritual master, so I've accepted it and we have good laughs about it. Never met another one. Never seen one on Google, either. It's been a solid name, good conversation starter."
Focus on – Beau Hossler
Despite being edged out by Ian Poulter in a play-off in the 2018 Houston Open, it still seemed a matter of when, not if, Hossler became a PGA TOUR winner. It nearly happened eight starts later when he again finished runner-up at the Travelers Championship, a result he followed with T6 at the Quicken Loans. Hossler looked a surefire hit. And then it unravelled. Since July 2018, the 24-year-old has failed to register a top ten on the PGA TOUR, a run which led to him losing his playing privileges. He put that right at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in August and T29 in Las Vegas last Sunday dropped a hint that Houston could be a big week for him. It's playing out that way and after improving rounds of 70-69-68 (no-one has gone lower over the last two rounds), Hossler is in position to crack the top ten again and possibly much, much more.