Super Save — for Bogey — Keeps Tommy Fleetwood All Smiles
ERIN, Wis. (AP) — Tommy Fleetwood had no problem picking out his best shot of the day.
Odd as it seems, it was his fifth on No. 18.
The Englishman had a chance for a piece of the third-round lead at the U.S. Open on Saturday as he lined up his third shot on the par-5 final hole — a 50-yard wedge from the bottom of the hill that led to the green. That shot hit halfway up and trickled back down the hill. His next attempt bounded completely over the putting surface.
From that near meltdown, he hit the next wedge to 3 feet and made the putt to save a 6. And instead of leaving Erin Hills fretting about how much better he could’ve done, he was thankful it wasn’t any worse.
The bogey left him with a 4-under 68 for the day and a three-way tie for second place at 11 under — tied with Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, and one shot behind Brian Harman.
“Those were tough shots,” Fleetwood said. “And when you’re staring a 7 or 8 in the face, then you save the 6, it doesn’t feel so bad.”
Up to that point, Fleetwood pretty much couldn’t find trouble if he tried.
The par-4 15th was set up as a drivable hole — downwind and only 288 yards. Fleetwood sprayed his tee shot far left and it bounded around in the fescue. But it came to rest practically teed up on some trampled-down grass near the walkway leading to the 16th tee. Fleetwood climbed the hill, opened up his wedge and flopped it to 6 feet; a potential blowup turned into a birdie that put him at 12 under.
“I got a massive break,” he said. “Two yards either way, I would have been stuck. I just happened to be in the perfect spot.”
The 26-year-old will play in the second-to-last group Sunday, quite a change for a player who had played in seven previous majors and missed the cut in six.
The closest he’s been to this sort of big-tournament pressure was in March, when he went toe-to-toe with Dustin Johnson at a World Golf Championship in Mexico. Johnson won by one, though maybe Fleetwood’s most memorable moment there, for better or worse, was the embarrassingly bad high-five he shared with his caddie after draining a long birdie putt to pull within one.
All worth the trouble.
That second-place finish earned him $1 million, moved him into the top 50 and secured his spot in both this year’s Masters and U.S. Open. It was one of his four top-10 finishes between the European and PGA Tours this season.
What would winning the U.S. Open do for him?
“Well, it would change my life,” he said.
The bogey save on 18 certainly changed his day.
Thompson takes LPGA Lead
GRAND RAPIDS, MI. (AP) — Lexi Thompson shot a 64 on Saturday on the Blythefield layout reduced to a par of 69 because of flooding, giving her a one-stroke lead in the Meijer LPGA Classic.
The fifth hole was played as a 111-yard par 3 instead of a par 5 because of the flooding from overnight rain.
Coming off a playoff loss to Ariya Jutanugarn last week in Canada, Thompson had six birdies — four on the back nine — and a bogey to reach 15-under 196.
“It was just a matter of staying patient,” Thompson said. “I knew I was hitting it well on the front nine, I just wasn’t making the birdies. But I hit it well all day, so it was all a matter of hitting the shots closer and I guess just taking advantage of like No. 11, reaching that one in two, and making a few putts for birdie.”
Her only bogey was on the par-4 seventh.
“It was just a stupid club coming in,” she said. “I should have just played short of the green, that’s where you have to miss it, and I hit it long. Just a bad miss, stupid mistake.”
Brooke Henderson, the leader after each of the first two rounds, had a 67 to drop into a tie for second with Lee-Anne Pace (61), Sung Hyun Park (62) and Jenny Shin (63).
Thompson won the Kingsmill Championship last month in Virginia for her eighth LPGA Tour title after losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation reported by a television viewer.
At Rancho Mirage in early April, Thompson was given the four-shot penalty with six holes to play in the final round. She had a 15-inch putt on 17 in the third round when she stooped to mark the ball, and quickly replaced it about an inch away. The television viewer contacted the LPGA Tour the next day, and officials determined it was a clear violation.
Thompson was assessed a two-shot penalty for where she replaced the ball, and because it happened the day before, she received a two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She went from a three-shot lead to one shot behind, and eventually lost to So Yeon Ryu in the playoff.
Henderson birdied Nos. 12 and 13 and closed with five pars.
“I made that long one from off the green on 12 that wasn’t really expected and that kind of gave me some energy,” the 19-year-old Canadian said.
Pace had two eagles and five birdies.
“My irons were really good,” the South African player said. “Obviously, all the par 3s, that helps. I was looking at birdie almost every hole, which is quite nice. I was never really in trouble except on 10, I missed the drive left, but that was really the only thing. There were a couple of long putts I made, unexpected putts actually. “
Shin made a long putt on No. 14 for her fifth straight birdie. But on 17, she pushed her approach shot and wound up on the bottom of the green, and took her only bogey of the round.
Hyo Joo Kim (65) was 12 under, and Lydia Ko (64), Michelle Wie (64), Moriya Jutanugarn (67) and Carlota Ciganda (68) followed at 11 under. Ko dropped to No. 2 in the world Monday after an 85-week run at the top. The top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn’s younger sister, was 9 under after a 64.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.