China’s Carl Yuan fired a career-low 8-under 64 on Saturday to earn a shot at challenging for the Rocket Mortgage Classic title as he charged into tied sixth place and four back of leader, Rickie Fowler.
Yuan, 26, brilliantly mixed his scorecard with an eagle, seven birdies and a lone bogey at Detroit Golf Club, reaching the 54-hole mark at 16-under 200. Fowler, a five-time PGA TOUR winner, fired a 64 as well to put himself on the brink of ending a title drought that stretches back to 2019.
It may be a tall order for Yuan to challenge for a breakthrough victory as no mainland Chinese has won on the PGA TOUR. However, he was delighted to freewheel himself onto the leaderboard as he chases for an historic win.
“I played the last two rounds great. Feel like I find something working in my swing. My coach was here on Thursday and worked a little bit after the round and seems like things are going the right direction. And I kind of just flow with it, let things happen instead of forcing it too much,” said Yuan, who is ranked 164th in the FedExCup standings.
Yuan’s career best finish on TOUR was a T17 in the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions on home soil and he reckons he cracked a code with a tied 18th finish at the recent RBC Canadian Open where he was the 36-hole leader. He stopped being too technical with his golf swing in Canada and posted his best outing to date in his rookie season.
The Chinese golfer made eagle on par-5, 7th hole after rifling a 6-iron from out of the rough to about 18 feet for his conversion.
“Actually, that hole was a pretty tough tee shot for me because I normally fade the driver. That hole favours a draw and it was wind coming not from right to left. Hit a pretty decent drive that ends up in the right rough and fortunately, I had a good enough lie that I can take a full rip a 6-iron at it,” he said.
“It took a really fortunate bounce, kicked to the right edge of the green and towards the flag, and I hit a really good putt there. It was an awesome three. Yeah, I think it’s just another day of playing golf (Sunday), go out there, try and do my thing and have fun. I think if I do those things well, let things happen, not really forcing too much and things unfold the way they’re supposed to.”
Yuan’s compatriot, Marty Zecheng Dou and Korea’s Sungjae Im also had good days, shooting matching 66s to move into a tie for 20th position at 12-under. Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira signed for a 69 for 11-under, one ahead of S.Y. Noh of Korea who shot a 68 for T30.
Seeking his first win in four years, an in-form Fowler birdied six of his last eight holes to seize a one-shot lead heading into the final round over closest pursuer, Adam Hadwin of Canada, who tied the course record of 63. Taylor Pendrith is third following a 67, two back.
“Whether it happens tomorrow or not, it’s going to happen here soon,” said Fowler, who has seven top-10s this season.
“I’m not pressing that, hey 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,” added the popular American, whose last victory was the 2019 WM Phoenix Open.
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, July 1, 2023
Weather: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms. High of 84. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Play was suspended due to inclement weather at 2:48 p.m. ET and resumed at 4:30 p.m. (delay of 1 hour, 42 minutes). Due to forecasted inclement weather, final-round tee times will be 6:45 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. ET in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10.
|1st||Rickie Fowler||67||65||64||196 (-20)|
|2nd||Adam Hadwin||66||68||63||197 (-19)|
|3rd||Taylor Pendrith||67||64||67||198 (-18)|
|T4||Peter Kuest||64||70||65||199 (-17)|
|T4||Aaron Rai||65||68||66||199 (-17)|