Fowler still three ahead at Memorial

June 6, 2010

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Dublin, OH – Rickie Fowler posted a three-under 69 on Saturday and remained three strokes ahead after three rounds of the Memorial tournament.

Fowler, who matched the 36-hole record, came up two shy of Scott Hoch’s 1987 54-hole record with his 16-under 200.

Fowler had a great look at birdie in the sunset at the 18th at Muirfield Village, but his putt stayed above ground. It was still a mature, bogey-free effort from a 21-year-old with some of the best players in the world in hot pursuit.

Ricky Barnes threw the biggest challenge at Fowler’s lead on a long Saturday afternoon. Barnes fired a 10-under 62 and is tied for second place with Tim Petrovic, who had a steady 68 on Saturday, at 13-under 203.

Barnes fired his 62 in the presence of playing partner Tiger Woods.

The defending champion, and four-time Memorial winner, Woods had a three-under 69 and is tied for 20th place at six-under 210.

Phil Mickelson, who can become No. 1 in the world with a win and an average finish from Woods, posted a two-under 70, but he is tied for 12th at minus- eight.

The long afternoon and sunset backdrop for Fowler’s closing putt was due to a pair of weather delays, including one to start Saturday’s third round, that totaled six hours.

The third round was still completed on Saturday and with a decent forecast in store on Sunday, the tournament should end as scheduled. Players will be going off in threesomes off split tees with the final group going off at 12:45 p.m. (et) Sunday.

“My game feels good, so I don’t think that the breaks and stops have hurt or helped it,” said the leader.

Fowler played steady golf when play finally began on Sunday. He had some decent looks at birdie early on, but made pars on his first eight holes, and the missed opportunities didn’t hurt the youngster.

“Kind of just had to stay patient and wait for my chances. Made a good up and down at eight and then I think that kind of helped me jump start my birdie at nine and cruised a bit through the back nine,” Fowler said.

Fowler hit a spectacular nine-iron to four feet to set up a birdie at the ninth. He moved to 14-under par and took a two-shot lead over the hard- charging Barnes, who holed out for eagle at the 11th.

At the par-three 12th, Fowler hit his tee ball to eight feet and made the birdie putt to stay two in front. Barnes, Justin Rose and Petrovic all played second fiddle to Fowler on Saturday, but every time someone got within one, Fowler stayed strong.

At 13, Fowler hit a gallery member with his approach and caught a lucky break. He was able to save par, but Rose poured in a 14-foot birdie putt at 14 to trail by a stroke.

Rose made a mess of his lay up at the par-five 15th and made bogey. Fowler hit a great second 30 feet over the flag, but he ran his eagle effort four feet past. Fowler missed the short birdie putt, but he was two clear.

Petrovic was the next challenger after he birdied 15, but he too fell. Petrovic hit it left with his second at 17 to make bogey and Fowler drained an eight-footer for birdie to polish off the two-shot swing with Petrovic and move three ahead of everyone.

At the last, Fowler’s second stopped 15 feet from the flag. He had a chance to further his advantage, but the putt never hit the hole.

Fowler will take a three-shot lead into the final round with a shot to join golf’s youth movement of 2010. Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, both in their early 20s won on tour this year and 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa shot a 58 to win in Asia.

Fowler has plenty of experience in his brief time on tour. He lost a playoff last fall at the Frys.com Open and finished second this year in Phoenix despite a bogey-free 68 in the final round.

“For example, at the Waste Management in Phoenix this year, I guess I was a little bit shaky that last round, even though I played bogey-free and played well,” said Fowler. “I feel a lot more comfortable this week, and I think that just goes to show being in contention prior definitely helps.”

Rose stumbled to two late bogeys and finished with a two-under 70, which was good for fourth place to himself at minus-12. Brendon de Jonge fired a seven- under 65 and is fifth at 11-under 205.

Three-time winner Kenny Perry (68), Spencer Levin (71), Jeff Overton (68), Sean O’Hair (68), Bo Van Pelt (68) and 2002 Memorial champion Jim Furyk (72) are knotted in sixth at minus-nine.

NOTES: Fowler can become the youngest champion in history and the first to make this tournament his first PGA Tour win since Tom Lehman in 1994…Vijay Singh had a six-under 66 on Saturday and is tied for 17th at seven-under par…Mark Calcavecchia, playing his last PGA Tour event before going off to the Champions Tour, posted a two-over 74 and shares 66th at plus-two.


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