FORT WORTH, Texas — You wanted live sports with consequence?
You’ve got it.
The first three rounds of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club has both given the players exactly what they’ve craved for the three-month COVID-19 layoff and given golf fans everything they’ve been missing.
Sunday’s final round is almost certain to deliver drama thanks to a scintillating Saturday shootout that left 14 players within three shots of Xander Schauffele’s lead at 13-under par.
“Everyone coming out of quarantine wanted this, and the next three weeks is going to show [it],’’ Schauffele said.
Schauffele, who followed his 65 and 66 the first two days with another 66 on Saturday, leads reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas, Branden Grace, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth by one shot. Those five are 12-under par.
Daniel Berger, who quietly has a streak of 27 consecutive rounds of par or below going, shot a third-round 67 and is 11-under par, tied with 36-hole leader Harold Varner III.
Patrick Reed showed the way early, posting a 7-under-par 63 to climb up the board to get to 10-under. He is tied with Mexican Abraham Ancer, Canadian Corey Connors, Englishman Justin Rose, Irishman Rory McIlroy and American Bryson DeChambeau.
“You get a field like this, it definitely has a major feel,’’ Woodland said. “You’ve got a lot of the top players in the world, and everybody is playing well. I think everybody is excited to be out here.
“Adrenaline was definitely going a little bit more today than the first two days. I expect more of that tomorrow. You’ve got a great leaderboard, a great field and a great golf course and a great tournament, so it should be fun.’’
McIlroy said, “for a Saturday afternoon being in contention on the PGA Tour, it felt sort of weird out there’’ with no fans.
“The first couple days it was fine, but definitely today it’s feeling strange,’’ he said. “I’m sure [Sunday] will feel pretty strange, especially with so many guys in and around the lead.’’
Thomas said he’s “into it,’’ adding that the week “is a little bit more competitive honestly than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be very odd. I was hoping that I’d be in this position to where I’d have a good chance to win the tournament and see how I feel, but it is going to be different, especially come those last couple of holes if you have a lead or if you’re trying to chase someone down or if you’re tied for the lead.
“It’ll be interesting to see how that adrenaline plays a role. But I’m looking forward to hopefully having that opportunity.’’
Reed set an early tone Saturday and the fireworks continued.
“It’s what I needed to do today,’’ Reed said. “I just felt like I did a lot of things solid the first two days, but I just made too many careless mistakes, so I was trying to clean that up, and I felt like I did a good job on that and just gave myself a chance with my putter.’’
Reed, who’s 10-under par in his last 27 holes, might be the hottest player entering Sunday’s final round.
“I just needed to get something going,’’ he said. “Something kind of clicked [Friday] in the swing that kind of allowed me to hit it a little closer and make some putts, and I just kind of ran with it today.’’
Asked what he expects out of Sunday and how far back someone might be able to come back from to win, Reed said, “It just all depends what Texas decides to do with the wind. If it starts to blow a little bit, starts to swirl, you never know what’s the lead, but I’m thinking it’s going to be around five or six back. You would think somebody has got to go low.’’