Fowler fires 65 to lead by four at Honda Clas­sic

The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Win­less in more than a year, Rickie Fowler fin­ished strong Saturday for a 5-un­der-par 65 and built a four-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Honda Clas­sic in Palm Beach Gar­dens, Fla.

Fowler made two birdies over the fi­nal three holes at rel­a­tively be­nign PGA Na­tional as ev­ery­one else around him was mak­ing mis­takes.

Fowler holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th, got a po­ten­tial break with a rul­ing be­hind the 17 th 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 that set up a two-putt birdie. That put him at 13-un­der 197. “I know I have the lead, and it’s nice to go out in front,” Fowler said. “But you still have to play, and es­pe­cially around this place, it can jump up and bite you.”

Fowler was four shots ahead of Tyrrell Hat­ton of Eng­land, play­ing his first PGA Tour event in Florida.

Hat­ton ran off three straight birdies to get within one of the lead un­til he went long on the 17 th and made bo­gey, then left a wedge short of the 18th green and had to scram­ble for par and a 66.

Two-time ma­jor cham­pion Martin Kaymer was in po­si­tion to join him 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.

Ryan Palmer and Wes­ley Bryan, tied for the lead go­ing into the day, lost ground over the fi­nal two hours. Palmer shot a 73, leav­ing him seven be­hind. Bryan made birdie on the 18th to sal­vage a 72.

Fowler hasn’t won since Abu Dhabi a year ago in Jan­uary. His last PGA Tour vic­tory was in Septem­ber 2015 at the Deutsche Bank Cham­pi­onship

LPGA TOUR: Amy Yang had 10 birdies and an ea­gle in 31 holes Saturday, and the third round of the LPGA Thai­land tour­na­ment was sus­pended be­cause of dark­ness in Chon­buri, Thai­land.

With five holes left, Yang, at 17 un­der, had a four-stroke lead over 2011 U.S. Women’s Open cham­pion Ryu So Yeon, whose com­pleted third-round 68 gave her the club­house lead at 13-un­der 203.

The tour­na­ment was al­ready be­hind sched­ule af­ter rain and un­playable course con­di­tions saw the un­fin­ished sec­ond round post­poned to Saturday at the Siam Coun­try Club Pat­taya Old Course.

EURO­PEAN TOUR: The Joburg Open was re­duced to 54 holes af­ter more rain left the course wa­ter­logged and forced an­other sus­pen­sion in play in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Many in the field hadn’t started their third round when thun­der and light­ning prompted or­ga­niz­ers to halt play early in the af­ter­noon. Rain then meant the third round will be com­pleted Sun­day and will be the fi­nal round at Royal Jo­han­nes­burg and Kens­ing­ton Golf Club.

Eng­land’s Paul War­ing and South Africa’s Dar­ren Fichardt share the lead at 11 un­der, with War­ing com­plet­ing a 67 in his sec­ond round early Saturday. Fichardt was one of the few play­ers to fin­ish his sec­ond round Fri­day.

JA­SON GETZ/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Rickie Fowler is seek­ing his first vic­tory since Jan­uary of last year.

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