Tommy Fleetwood hopes to use positive final-round memories in US PGA title bid

By Sports Desk May 20, 2023

Tommy Fleetwood will take inspiration from previous final-round heroics after playing his way into contention for the 105th US PGA Championship.

Fleetwood defied miserable conditions at Oak Hill to card a third round of 68 and set the early clubhouse target of one over par.

The Ryder Cup star was six shots off the lead when he signed his card, but can call on the memories of his record-equalling final round of 63 in the 2018 US Open as he bids to claim a maiden major title.

“It would be the low round of the day if somebody did do it,” Fleetwood said with a smile when asked by the PA news agency if a 63 was possible at Oak Hill.

“Who knows? Didn’t think it was on at Shinnecock but it happened there and it’s obviously something that happens very rarely.

“But I think you just have to go out and hit your shots and play well and see what score you can get. I played really, really well today in tough conditions and actually gave myself a bunch of chances on the front nine.

“You saw guys going low on the back nine yesterday. Any golf course there’s chances out there if things are going your way and you hole some putts.

“We’ll see what Sunday brings, but always nice to have good memories of being able to go low on a major Sunday in your memory bank and who knows? Start off hot and we’ll see.”

Fleetwood’s entire round was played in persistent rain but as conditions eased for the later starters, Canada’s Corey Conners led the way on five under after starting his third round with seven straight pars.

Conners led by one from Norway’s Viktor Hovland, with Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka a shot further back. Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry were another two strokes back after 12 holes.

Earlier in the day, Jordan Spieth admitted his wrist injury had cost him a number of shots after carding a third round of 71 to lie six over.

Spieth, who needs to win the US PGA to complete a career grand slam, was a doubt for the year’s second major after withdrawing from last week’s PGA Tour event due to “severe pain” in his left wrist.

“I’ve been doing a lot of recovery [on the wrist] every day since I injured it,” Spieth said.

“But on course there’s been a couple of scenarios where I bailed out of a couple shots that if it weren’t a factor I wouldn’t have, and unfortunately those shots did affect my score.

“I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here but it’s only been a couple of times.

“My normal swings, it’s not an issue. It’s just when you’ve got to really flick under a flop shot or a bunker shot – I had that today where I just don’t have the confidence in it not making it worse, so I just bail a little bit.

“I probably cost myself a few shots on that. But coming in here I kind of figured that might be the case.

“It’s nothing major, but it’s significant enough that I would have liked to have had two or three weeks off before this event just to feel like I got prepared.”

England’s Tyrrell Hatton had defied the conditions to card an impressive 69, a round compiled alongside 2021 winner Phil Mickelson, who had made the cut for the 100th time in his major championship career.

Mickelson is the fourth player to achieve that feat after Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson and also tied the record for the most cuts made in the US PGA, joining Nicklaus and Ray Floyd on 27.

The six-time major winner may have wished he had not made the weekend however, carding a birdie-free 75 which left him on 10 over par.

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