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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Rickie Fowler leads in Detroit trying to break four-year victory drought

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Washington – Rickie Fowler, trying to snap a four-year victory drought, birdied six of the last eight holes for a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Tour Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The 34-year-old American, who last won at the 2019 Phoenix Open, sizzled down the back nine to fire an eight-under par 64 and stand on 20-under 196 after 54 holes at Detroit Golf Club.

“Just felt good,” Fowler said. “Swing felt nice. I wanted to keep giving myself as many looks as I could. Good swings and made some putts.”

Canadian Adam Hadwin matched the course record with a bogey-free 63 to finish one back of Fowler on 197 with countryman Taylor Pendrith third on 198 after taking his first bogeys of the week at the par-3 15th and 18.

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England’s Aaron Rai and American Peter Kuest, a Monday qualifier, shared fourth on 199.

Afternoon storms halted play for an hour and 42 minutes and a stormy forecast prompted officials to move Sunday tee times to early morning in threesomes off first and 10th tees.

“I’m just hoping we can finish,” Fowler said.

Fowler, a five-time PGA winner whose titles include the 2017 Players Championship, has struggled for the past three seasons but revived his form this year with nine top-20 finishes in his past 10 events.

He’s confident a triumph is not far off.

“Whether it happens tomorrow or not, it’s going to happen here soon,” Fowler said. “I’m not pressing that I need to go get it done tomorrow or it means absolutely nothing.

“I’ve been playing a lot of really good golf and been putting myself in good positions. This definitely won’t be the last, but yeah, it will be fun tomorrow.”

Fowler sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the second and birdied all four par-5 holes — the fourth, seventh, 14th and 17th.

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After taking his lone bogey at 10 when he landed his tee shot behind a tree in the far left rough, Fowler birdied the 13th with a 12-foot putt, the 14th on a tap-in and the par-3 15th from just outside four feet.

Fowler tapped in for birdie at 15 to match Hadwin for the lead and then dropped his approach just inside three feet at 18 and tapped in for the lead.

Hadwin went four-under over the last five holes with a 17-foot eagle putt at 14, a 12-foot birdie putt at 15 and a tap-in birdie at 17.

“This is the round I needed to give myself a chance tomorrow,” Hadwin said.

“Guys are going low. I’ve got to keep making birdies, keep hitting fairways, staying out of my own way and keep making decisions quickly.”

Hadwin, whose only PGA victory came at the 2017 Valspar Championship, fired a 59 at LaQuinta Country Club in the 2017 PGA CareerBuilder Challenge and pondered another 59 on Saturday.

“It kind of passed through my mind. I did quick match after eagle-birdie on 14-15,” he said. “I just didn’t think there were enough holes coming in.”

World number 127 Pendrith, chasing his first PGA title, was last year’s Detroit runner-up. His only top-10 finish this season was a share of seventh at Pebble Beach.

AFP

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