Matsuyama goes bogey-free to grab clubhouse lead in Detroit


  • Golf
  • Sunday, 05 Jul 2020

Jul 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Hideki Matsuyama plays his shot from the 9th tee during the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament at Detroit Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Japan's Hideki Matsuyama fired his lowest round since late February to grab the early, third-round clubhouse lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Saturday, while overnight co-leaders Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk teed off.

Matsuyama, who missed the cut two weeks ago in his only other start since the PGA Tour returned from a three-month COVID-19 hiatus, shot a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to reach 12 under for the week at the Detroit Golf Club.

The left him level with overnight co-leaders Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk, who went out in the last group at 2:05 p.m. ET (1805 GMT).

Matsuyama, bidding for his sixth PGA Tour win and first since 2017, made three birdies on the front nine and then added another four over an eight-hole stretch on the back nine to surge up the leaderboard.

The round was Matsuyama's lowest since a 64 in the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship in late February.

Tony Finau, who birdied three of his last four holes on Friday to make the cut on the number, stormed up the leaderboard with a six-under 66 to sit one back of Matsuyama along with Adam Schenk (66), Tom Lewis (66) and Arjun Atwal (66).

Finau's highlight came at the par-five seventh where he made eagle after his approach shot from 244 yards out settled 16 feet from the hole.

"I haven't had like a really breakout round, I feel, that gets me like, 'all right, we're back.'" said Finau. "But I think I'm really close to putting together some great golf again and that's exciting for me."

Former Masters champion Danny Willett (67) and Jonathan Byrd (67) were each in the clubhouse two shots back of Matsuyama.

Rickie Fowler, who also had to battle on Friday to make the cut, was a further shot adrift after a three-under-par 69 brought him to nine under on the week.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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