Rickie Fowler out to 4 stroke lead after three rounds at the Honda

1044
Rickie Fowler
2017 The Honda Classic
(The 15th of 43 events in the PGA TOUR Season)
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.                   Feb. 23 – 26, 2017              Purse: $6,400,000 ($1,152,000/winner)
PGA National (Champion Course)        Par/Yards: 35-35—70/7,140
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, February 25, 2017
Weather: Partly cloudy skies with a high of 85 and low of 65. Wind SSE 7-14 mph.
Third-Round Leaderboard
Rickie Fowler          66-66-65—197 (-13)
Tyrrell Hatton          68-67-66—201 (-9)
Five tied at 203 (-7)

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler posted birdies at Nos. 3, 7, 9, 16 and 18 to climb into the 54-hole lead/co-lead for the fifth time of his career Saturday with a bogey-free 5-under 65. In four previous tries, Fowler has failed to convert a 54-hole lead to victory. Each of his three career victories on TOUR were come-from-behind wins.

Four shots is the largest 54-hole lead of Fowler’s career to this point. Before this week, his previous largest lead after 54 holes was a three-shot edge at the 2010 Memorial Tournament, where he finished in solo second after a final-round 73.

Fowler hit 11 of 18 greens in the third round but was perfect in his scrambling attempts (7/7). Following the perfect effort, Fowler is second this week in scrambling (14/17).

Fowler’s 65 ties his best in 27 rounds at The Honda Classic (R1/2013).

The Jupiter, Fla. resident opened with matching 66s a year ago on his way to the 36-hole lead but fell into T6 with weekend rounds of 74-71. Fowler’s 65 is his first round in the 60s on the weekend in his last five weekend rounds at The Honda Classic.

Fowler is making his eighth start in The Honda Classic where he owns two top-10s: T7 in 2012 and T6 in 2016. Fowler has broken par just once in the final round in five previous tries (66 in 2012).

In three starts on the PGA TOUR this season, Fowler has one missed cut (Farmers Insurance Open) and two top-six showings: WGC-HSBC Champions (T6) and Waste Management Phoenix Open (T4).

Fowler’s career on the Bear Trap:

Stat
15th Par 3
16th Par 4
17th Par 3
Total
Greens in Regulation
18 of 27
14 of 27
13 of 27
45/81 (56%)
Balls in Water
2
1
2
5
Score to Par
+4
+6
-1
+9
Fowler’s key statistics:                        Stat                  Rank
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee                   4.036                4th
Stokes Gained: Tee To Green                9.091                2nd
Strokes Gained: Approach the Green    4.109                11th
Greens Hit                                              37/54
Fairways Hit                                            31/42

Tyrrell Hatton
With rounds of 68-67-66, Hatton has improved each round at The Honda Classic to climb into solo second at 9-under 201.

Hatton, 25, has two top-10s on the PGA TOUR in 11 career starts but has never been inside the top 10 after 54 holes. Hatton finished a career-best T5 at the 2016 Open Championship and followed it with a T10 at the 2016 PGA Championship.

Hatton’s lone career victory on the European Tour came at the 2016 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in December, where he won by four shots after climbing into the lead with a third-round 62. In Hatton’s last start on the European Tour three weeks ago, he finished T3 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and is up to No. 18 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Hatton’s lone start on the PGA TOUR this season came at the World Golf Championships–HSBC Champions in late November, where he finished T23. He will compete at next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship.

The High Wycombe, England native is making his first start in The Honda Classic this week. Since 1980, only four players have won The Honda Classic in their first attempt: Tim Herron (1996), Matt Kuchar (2002), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Padraig Harrington (2005).

Hatton is in search of his first win on the PGA TOUR in his 12th career start. Twelve players have made The Honda Classic their first career TOUR title. Since 2000, five players have achieved the feat:  Matt Kuchar (2002), Padraig Harrington (2005), Mark Wilson (2007), Y.E. Yang (2009) and Michael Thompson (2013).

Martin Kaymer
Despite playing the back nine in 2-over 37, Kaymer enters the final round in a tie for third with Sean O’Hair, Emiliano Grillo, Wesley Bryan and Gary Woodland after a 2-under 68. Kaymer posted birdies at Nos. 1, 3, 6 and 9 on his way to an outward 4-under 31. He failed to make a birdie on the back.

This week Kaymer is playing on a sponsor invite. The last two players to win on the PGA TOUR as a sponsor invite were Billy Hurley III (2016 Quicken Loans National) and 2015 Honda Classic winner Padraig Harrington.

Notably, Kaymer has yet to record a bogey on The Bear Trap this week and is 1-under on the difficult three-hole stretch.

Kaymer, a two-time major champion and winner of the 2014 The PLAYERS Championship, has only come from behind in one of his three career PGA TOUR victories. In his 2010 PGA Championship victory, Kaymer trailed by four shots entering the final round.

In three previous starts at The Honda Classic, Kaymer has made two cuts but has never finished higher than T44 (2015).

Kaymer’s looking for his first TOUR victory since his eight-shot victory at the 2014 U.S. Open, where Fowler finished in a tie for runner-up.

Sean O’Hair
Sean O’Hair is making his 10th career start at The Honda Classic but is in search of his first top-10. O’Hair made six birdies against no bogeys over his last 14 holes of the third round to get within six shots of Rickie Fowler’s lead at T3.

O’Hair’s best finish at The Honda Classic came a year ago with a T14.

The four-time TOUR winner is looking for his first victory since the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Through six events on TOUR this season, O’Hair has two top-10s, equaling his total from the 2015-16 season.

Third-Round Lead Notes
Since moving to PGA National in 2007, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has gone on to win seven of the last 10 times – Mark Wilson (2007), Y.E. Yang (2009), Camilo Villegas (2010), Rory Sabbatini (2011), Rory McIlroy (2012), Michael Thompson (2013), Adam Scott (2016).

Ernie Els (2008) and Padraig Harrington (2015) have the biggest come-from-behind victory since the tournament moved to PGA National, with both trailing by three shots entering the final round.

The Honda Classic has ended with a playoff in two of the last three years. Russell Henley emerged from a four-man playoff in 2014, and Padraig Harrington defeated Daniel Berger on the second playoff hole in 2015.

Through 14 events in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, six players have converted a 54-hole lead/co-lead to victory, most recently Dustin Johnson at last week’s Genesis Open and Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Miscellaneous Notes
Emiliano Grillo jumped up 25 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for third at 7-under after posting 5-under 65, matching his lowest score this season (R2/CIMB Classic).

36-hole co-leader Wesley Bryan held a share for much of the front nine after an opening 1-under 34, but posted his first over-par round of the tournament with bogeys at Nos. 10 and 14 and a double bogey at the 15th. He birdied the last to climb into a tie for third entering the final round.

Ryan Palmer, who also held a share of the 36-hole lead with Bryan at 9-under, made just one birdie in a 3-over 73.

PGA TOUR rookie Brandon Hagy tied the best round of the tournament Saturday with a bogey-free 6-under 64. After making the cut on the number at even-par, Hagy’s third-round 64 moved him into T8 at 6-under 204. Hagy’s looking for his first top-10 in 19 starts on the PGA TOUR. The 25-year-old earned his PGA TOUR card for the 2016-17 season with a 19th-place finish on the 2016 Web.com Tour Regular Season money list after recording five top-10s in 19 starts.

With a third-round 3-over 73, Ollie Schniederjans’ streak of 26 consecutive rounds at par or better on the PGA TOUR came to an end. Schniederjans could have tied Bill Haas, who currently leads the TOUR with 27 consecutive par-or-better rounds.

Zach Johnson has the most rounds without a bogey on the 15th hole, going bogey-free over his last 15 rounds. Johnson posted his first birdie on the 15th of the tournament in the third round after hitting his tee shot inside five feet.

The week of The Honda Classic offers the final opportunity to qualify for next week’s World Golf Championships- Mexico Championship, a title Adam Scott will also be defending. Players not previously eligible can qualify by being inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking (players inside the top 50 in the OWGR as of 2/20/17 cannot drop out) or the top 10 or the FedExCup standings following The Honda Classic.

Scoring Averages at the par-70 PGA National:

             Front 9             Back 9             Total                Cumulative
Thursday                      35.070              35.261              70.331              —
Friday                           34.835              35.777              70.612              70.471
Saturday                       34.729              34.886              69.614              70.186

Bear Trap averages – No. 15 (3.129/5th toughest), No. 16 (3.900/12th toughest), No. 17 (2.971/10th toughest).

The par-5 third (4.357) was the easiest hole of the day. The par-4 2nd (4.357) was the hardest hole of the day.

Bogey-free rounds:
R1: Graham DeLaet (66), Ian Poulter (66) and Brian Harman (67).
R2: None
R3: Brandon Hagy (64), Rickie Fowler (65), Francesco Molinari (67)

 

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