Another strong finish over the closing stretch Saturday. Another big lead after 54 holes.
Rickie Fowler can only hope that today at the Honda Classic turns out as easy as it did the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, when Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson converted big leads into inevitable victories.
Fowler made two birdies over the final three holes at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to cap a 5-under 65 that gave him a four-shot lead over Tyrrell Hatton of England as he tries to end a frustrating year of not winning anywhere in the world.
“It would be nice to follow in their footsteps,” Fowler said. “But I do have a lot of work to do tomorrow. A four-shot lead is nice. That can obviously go away very quickly, too.”
Fowler holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th, got a potential break with a ruling behind the 17th green that allowed him to use a putter instead of a wedge, and then closed with a drive so bold and big that he had only a 7-iron into the par-5 18th to set up a two-putt birdie.
That put him at 13-under 197 and plenty of room for error.
Spieth made three birdies over his last four holes Saturday at Pebble Beach to build a six-shot lead (he won by four). A week later, Johnson birdied his last three holes at Riviera to build a five-shot lead and won by that margin.
The difference could be PGA National, with all its water and a forecast of strong wind for the final round.
“If you’re playing from three, four shots behind, you can’t make a mistake,” Fowler said. “When you’re out front, four shots, I make a mistake, OK, we’re still up. ... To be out front and be in control and with the way I feel about the game, the way I’ve been swinging, I’m looking forward to it.”
Fowler is 5 under over the final four holes at PGA National so far this week.
“Birdies happen in the Bear Trap,” he said, referring to the closing stretch. “But other numbers do, as well.”
Hatton did his work before that stretch, running off three straight birdies to get within one of the lead. But he went long on the 17th and was perplexed by the Bermuda grass that he rarely sees. He chipped 15 feet by the pin and made bogey, then left a wedge short of the 18th green and had to scramble for a par and a 66.
Hatton and Fowler played together in the third round of the British Open last year, when neither had a chance to win the way Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson were playing Royal Troon that week. There’s plenty at stake this time.
Hatton, in his first PGA Tour event in Florida, came into the week with no expectations and stuck to that plan.
“All you can do is try your best and play well. That’s what I try and do every week,” Hatton said. “It’s a new course for me. I played 27 holes on Monday and Tuesday, and my caddie has done enough homework. So we know what to do. Hopefully, I’ll just play well.”
Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer had a chance to join Hatton at 9-under 201 until he took bogey from the middle of the fairway on the 18th and wound up with a 68. That left him in a large group at 7-under 203 that included Emiliano Grillo, who finished his 65 just as the leaders were starting the third round.
Amy Yang had a four-stroke lead in the LPGA Thailand at 17 under with five holes left when third-round play was suspended because of darkness.
The South Korean player, the 2015 champion, had 10 birdies and an eagle in 31 holes Saturday in the rain-delayed tournament on Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course.
England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and South Korea’s Sei Young Kim were 11 under, and Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn were in the group at 10 under — all still on the course.
The Joburg Open in South Africa was reduced to 54 holes after more rain left the course waterlogged and forced another suspension in play.
Many of the players hadn’t started the third round when thunder and lightning forced organizers to halt play early in the afternoon at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
England’s Paul Waring and South Africa’s Darren Fichardt shared the lead at 11 under, with Waring completing a 67 in his second round early Saturday.
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.