AVONDALE, La. (AP) — Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler shot a 10-under 62 in better-ball play Saturday to maintain a one-shot lead through three rounds at the Zurich Classic.
“It’s going to be a cool environment and a unique experience frankly to have a chance to win a golf tournament with a partner,” Hossler said. “So, it will be a nice little Sunday for us.”
Clark and Hossler have finished each of the first three rounds atop the leaderboard on the strength of steady and largely mistake-free play. While they have not accounted for any of the 25 eagles during the tournament, they have not posted a single bogey in 54 holes, either.
They birdied 10 holes in the third round to put them at 26 under — a stroke ahead of Sungjae Im and Keith Mitchell — heading into the final round.
Clark made two birdie putts from beyond 20 feet — a 26-footer on par-4 12th and a 21-footer on the par-3 third.
“I hope tomorrow we’re light and loose like we’ve been all three days,” Clark said. “If the momentum goes in our direction, I hope we just keep riding it.”
While the 29-year-old Clark and 28-year-old Hossler do not have a PGA Tour victory between them, both have several top-20 finishes this season. Clark finished fifth at the Valspar Championship. Hossler tied for 11th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“Frankly, getting yourself in position to win a golf tournament is difficult, and closing the deal is really hard,” Hossler said. “The more opportunities you get, the more comfortable you get, and hopefully we can lean on that tomorrow.”
Im and Mitchell also went bogey free with 10 birdies to remain one shot back at 25-under. Their highlights included Im’s 23-foot birdie putt on No. 3.
Tied for third were Vincent Norman and Matthias Schwab, Taylor Moore and Matthew NeSmith, and Nick Hardy and Davis Riley, three shots back.
All 35 teams to made the cut began the third round within six shots of one another. But just 12 teams were within six shots of the lead heading into Sunday.
Brothers Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick posted their second 10-under round in three days. Both came in the better ball format which, theoretically, would have allowed the more accomplished Matt Fitzpatrick — the defending U.S. Open champion and winner of the RBC Heritage last week — to carry the team.
But in both better ball rounds, Alex had as many or more birdies. They each had five in the first and Alex had six of their 11 birdies on Saturday. They would have had the day’s best round if not for a bogey on the par-4 sixth.
They enter the final round — which will be played in the alternate-shot format — five shots back.
The stakes are far higher for Alex Fitzpatrick, who could earn his PGA Tour card with a victory, or could qualify for an additional PGA Tour event with a high finish. But the elder Fitzpatrick dismissed the notion that he’s feeling pressure to boost his younger brother’s career.
“I’m not worried about this week for Alex,” Matt Fitzpatrick said. “He can hold his own. … I just want him to enjoy this week, and I think by enjoying it, you’re going to give yourself a better chance.”
Likewise, Alex Fitzpatrick said, “There are stakes, but at the same time, we’ve got nothing to lose. … If we play well, great. If we don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I get to spend time with my brother, spend time with my family and stuff.”
After making a significant move up the leaderboard Friday with a tournament record 9-under for an alternate shot round, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele shot a 6-under 66 — seven birdies and a bogey on 16 — and were six back at 20-under.
Billy Horschel and former LSU player Sam Burns shot a 63 to improve to 20-under. Burns highlighted the round by chipping in for birdie on the par-4 13th, then waving his arm upward to encourage the gallery as it chanted L-S-U!”
The tees were up and there was a helping wind on the 16th, a 332-yard par 4, motivating many players to try to drive the green — even it missing left meant going in the water. No team managed an eagle on the hole but 19 teams birdied it. Nicolai Hojgaard’s drive landed just in front of the green and hit the pin, but bounded 10 feet away, his teammate Thorbjorn Olesen, wound up making birdie and Hojgaard picked up after missing his eagle putt.
Charlie Hoffman, who teamed up with Nick Watney, made the first hole-in-one of this year’s tournament on the 210-yard, par-3 ninth. It was the third of his career.
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