Eight birdies give Rickie Fowler third-round lead at Phoenix Open

Rickie Fowler had the lead heading into the final round at the Phoenix Open last year, only to see the title slip through his grip for a second time. He will have a big cushion in his latest bid to win the championship following a stellar display of golf Saturday.

Fowler had eight birdies in a 7-under-par 64 at TPC Scottsdale to take a four-shot lead over Matt Kuchar into the final round.

Fowler opened with four birdies in six holes and navigated a difficult two-putt on the par-4 18th hole to reach 20-under 193.

“This one is definitely high on the list, another being Torrey Pines,” Fowler said. “I would say between here and there, those would be the two highest on the list other than a major.”

Kuchar shot a bogey-free 65 to put himself in position for his third victory of the wraparound PGA season. He has been par or better in all 19 rounds this season, winning the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico in November and the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.

Justin Thomas, who started one shot behind Fowler, carded a 65 and was five back.

Branden Grace and Byeong Hun An were at 13-under on a day golf said goodbye to one of its most distinctive voices.

Saturday’s third round was the broadcasting finale of NBC lead golf analyst Johnny Miller’s career.

Miller followed a Hall of Fame playing career with three decades of calling it the way he saw it, regardless of what the players thought of him. Wanting to spend more time with his family, the 71-year-old Miller decided to call it quits after the Phoenix Open, where he won twice to help earn the nickname “Desert Fox.”

European Tour: Sergio Garcia was disqualified from the Saudi International tournament in King Abdullah Economic City for damaging greens in frustration during his third round, and the Spaniard said he has apologized to fellow players for his actions.

Li Haotong of China made four eagles, including two in his last two holes and three of them on par-4s, en route to an 8-under 62 and a share of the lead with Dustin Johnson. Li is the first player since Mark Pilkington (2007 Singapore Masters) to make four eagles in one European Tour round.

Johnson, who had a three-stroke lead overnight, made four consecutive birdies from No. 9 to move to 5-under for his round. He made par in his final six holes.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Eight-birdies-give-Rickie-Fowler-third-round-lead-13584506.php.

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