ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga (TBEN) – Robert Streb kept his game from coming undone in the first hour of Saturday, then gathered enough birds for a 3 under 67 to build himself a three-stroke lead before the final round of the RSM Classic.
Streb came from five shots behind when he won at Sea Island six years ago, his only PGA Tour title. This time he has a lead over Zach Johnson (65) and Bronson Burgoon (67).
Streb was 17 under 195.
Camilo Villegas less than a shot on the head going to the back nine of the Seaside course to a two-shot swing on the 10th that cost him some momentum. Streb hit his approach to 8 feet for birdie. Villegas was just on the outskirts of 15 feet, ran him 5 feet and missed him to fall three shots back.
Villegas added a bogey on the 13th, didn’t birdie the last nine and had to settle for a 70. He was five strokes behind as he tried to win for the first time in five years , and after a summer in which her 2-year-old daughter died of brain and spine tumors.
Streb had to collect his full PGA Tour card a year ago, then missed the PGA Tour playoffs for the third year in a row. He retained his status due to the year shortened by the pandemic, and a victory on Sunday would give him an exemption until August 2023.
Even so, he knows from experience not to look too far.
It was 2014 when Streb closed with a 63 to make up for a five-stroke deficit before winning a three-way playoff series. Six players were within five strokes of the lead before Sunday.
Even without spectators and with a limited number of authorized corporate clients, Johnson will feel a whole community behind. He lives on Sea Island and no resident has ever won this event. Without a win since the 2015 British Open in St. Andrews, Johnson rallied late with three birdies in his last five holes, finishing with a 30-foot birdie.
Burgoon had five birdies in a six-hole stretch over the last nine – except for a bogey on the 14th, playing straight into a strong wind alongside the water – to overcome a tough start and get into the squad final.
Emiliano Grillo had a 65 and was four shots behind, while Kevin Kisner (66) and Kyle Stanley (68) were five behind.
Streb started his round with a quick hook and escaped trouble with par. On the left side of the second fairway, 123 yards to a back pin and into the wind, he left it on the front of the green and had to make two 75 foot putts. He came well short of the green at the third par 3 and had to move up and down the 65 meet, making an 8 foot par putt.
“It wasn’t the best start, but I came out of there with a bunch of starts and tried to find some consistency and it got better,” said Streb.
It was never easy, but he was not losing ground. He made his first birdie with a 3-foot sand wedge on No.8, and the remainder of the inning was relatively stress-free except for a few more putts of 50 feet or more.