Rickie Fowler returns to big stage and takes lead in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Rickie Fowler, who shot his best round in three seasons Saturday in the foothills of Las Vegas, had a round of 9-under 63. This gave him a two-shot advantage over Rory McIlroy heading into the final round at Summit's CJ Cup

Rickie Fowler returns to big stage and takes lead in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Rickie Fowler, who shot his best round in three seasons Saturday in the foothills of Las Vegas, had a round of 9-under 63. This gave him a two-shot advantage over Rory McIlroy heading into the final round at Summit's CJ Cup.

Fowler hasn’t had a chance like this since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open victory. It doesn’t look easy at The Summit Club, with all its low scores.

McIlroy began the final round nine shots behind the leader, then made five consecutive birdies on the front nine. He then won the scoring holes by closing with a 7 iron into 20 feet for an eagle on par-5 hole 18.

Fowler has risen to No. Fowler, who is ranked No. 128 in the world rankings, birdied three of his five last holes and was 21-under 195.

Fowler stated, "I haven’t been there a lot over the past couple of years so it’s nice to get back in that place." It's been a long process. It has been a long journey, with many difficult times. We are not finished."

Nine players were within five shots from the lead.

Keith Mitchell began the third round with five shots lead. He made two birdies in the first round, chipping in from behind green on the par-3 2nd and hitting a 3-wood to create a breeze. This set up a par-5 birdie.

It took only two bad swings for him to lose his advantage. No. 8 was his number. 8 and added a three-putt to make double bogey. Mitchell returned to the desert on No. 9 and made another double-bogey.

Mitchell spent the rest the day chasing and, in some cases trying to not lose any more ground. For a 73, Mitchell holed a 30-foot birdie shot on the last hole. He was four shots behind.

His struggles were not unique. Jordan Spieth was in the last group. He figured that being five back would give him the ability to keep his foot on a gas pedal. Spieth apparently forgot to turn the car on. Spieth didn't make birdie on the 15th hole, so he had to settle for a 72. He was eight shots behind.

Average score for the week was 68.5

McIlroy thought more about his game and how much ground he needed to cover, but this changed when the putts began to fall.

He said, "I think that on a course such as this you're likely to have stretches when you're going be playing good golf and hitting good shots, and maybe not hole the putts." Yesterday, I played eight holes in even par and made eight pars. Today, I played nine holes at 6 under. It made me feel better.

It was easy to feel at ease playing with Abraham Ancer, who shot a 63 and was three behind Adam Scott (67), and Robert Streb (65)

After they were done, McIlroy's and Ancer's caddies looked at their scores on their phones. They quickly realized that McIlroy had a better-ball score than Ancer of 59.

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