PGA Tour

Fleetwood seizes 1-stroke lead at Honda Classic

Tommy Fleetwood (Getty Images)
Tommy Fleetwood (Getty Images)

Miami - Britain's Tommy Fleetwood birdied four of the last six holes, including two spectacular birdie putts from beyond 40 feet, to grab a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

The 29-year-old Englishman, runner-up at the 2018 US Open and 2019 British Open, fired a three-under par 67 to finish on five-under 205 after 54 holes at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Fleetwood, who began the day three strokes off the lead, made six birdies against three bogeys on a wild day where he was the only player to shoot a round under par in the final eight groups.

"It's funny, really, how tough certain shots can play," Fleetwood said.

"There are just so many factors on a golf course. You can only hit golf shots and see where they play."

American Brendan Steele, the 36-hole leader who was three ahead of Fleetwood when the day began, fired a 71 to stand second on 206 with England's 46-year-old Lee Westwood and 42-year-old Luke Donald both on 207 after 71s on Saturday.

"I didn't have my A-game today," said Westwood, seeking his first PGA win since 2010.

"Struggled with my game a little bit. Stayed patient and ground it out. I don't think I did too much damage."

Fleetwood dropped the ball within six feet at the par-3 sixth and made the birdie putt, then suffered a three-putt bogey from 85 feet at the par-3 seventh. He answered with a five-foot birdie at the ninth but needed four shots to find the 10th green and took a bogey.

His closing charge began with a "lovey putt" for birdie from 14 feet at 13, followed by a monster 45-footer for birdie at 14.

"Just looking to lag that one up close. Wasn't expecting it to go in," Fleetwood said.

"Bit of a bonus there."

After finding sand with his first two shots at the par-3 15th, Fleetwood blasted out and sank a testy 10-foot bogey putt.

"The putt at 15 for bogey was big," Fleetwood said.

It bolstered his confidence heading to the finish and at the par-3 17th he rolled in a 48-foot birdie putt.

"At 17, again, another bonus one in there, just to walk it in," Fleetwood said.

On the par-5 18th, Fleetwood became only the day's seventh player to reach the green in two, then rolled a 44-foot eagle putt to two feet and tapped in for birdie.

Fleetwood, a five-time European Tour winner who is seeking his first PGA title, has his first 54-hole lead on the US tour.

Steele birdied two of the first three holes but back-to-back bogeys at four and five and again at 10 and 11 were more than a 12-foot birdie putt at 17 could offset.

Westwood made three bogeys and two birdies in the first seven holes, then grinded out back nine pars with a birdie at 12 and a bogey at 16 after his 6-iron from 200 yards landed short and left of the green.

"I wasn't as prepared as I'm used to when I pulled back on the ball," Westwood said of his round.

"There was a little bit of doubt in there. I'll have to work on that for tomorrow."

It's not that Westwood isn't feeling a boost after capturing January's Abu Dhabi Championship for his 25th career European Tour victory.

"My confidence levels are high," he said.

"Any time you win a tournament like I did in Dubai, your confidence has to escalate."

Sharing fifth on 208 were South Korea's Im Sung-jae, American Daniel Berger and South African Charl Schwartzel.

Leading scores after Saturday's third round of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (USA unless noted, par-70):

205 - Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 70-68-67

206 - Brendan Steele 68-67-71

207 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 67-69-71, Luke Donald (ENG) 70-66-71

208 - Daniel Berger 69-70-69, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 69-69-70, Im Sung-jae (KOR) 72-66-70

209 - Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 71-72-66, Rory Sabbatini (SVK) 71-69-69, Mark Hubbard 69-71-69, Robby Shelton 70-69-70, Russell Henley 70-69-70, J.T. Poston 67-69-73

210 - Ryan Palmer 70-72-68, An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 76-66-68, Jason Dufner 70-72-68, Brandon Hagy 70-71-69, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 70-71-69, Billy Horschel 73-67-70, Maverick McNealy 70-69-71, Cameron Davis (AUS) 70-67-73, Nick Watney 71-66-73

211 - Grayson Murray 73-68-70, Jimmy Walker 72-69-70, Lee Kyoung-hoon 69-71-71, Cameron Tringale 67-72-72, Kevin Streelman 69-70-72, Richy Werenski 70-68-73, Jamie Lovemark 69-69-73, Shane Lowry (IRL) 69-69-73, Sepp Straka (AUG) 70-67-74, Gary Woodland 70-67-74

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