Reigning US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick of England fired a PGA Tour career-low, eight-under par 63 to seize the lead after Saturday’s third round of the Heritage tournament.
Fitzpatrick’s bogey-free round — highlighted by holing out for eagle from 149 yards in a fairway bunker at the par-4 third hole — gave him the 54-hole lead on 14-under 199 at Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
“This is a golf course that has shown there are low scores around here this week, and to do that for myself is a big positive,” Fitzpatrick said.
World number four Patrick Cantlay fired a 66 to stand second on 200, one stroke ahead of fellow American Jordan Spieth.
World number two Scottie Scheffler, who could recapture the top spot after losing it to Masters winner Jon Rahm last week, fired a 69 to share fourth with fellow Americans Taylor Moore, Mark Hubbard and Jimmy Walker plus England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
Spain’s Rahm shot 69, fading to a share of 21st on 205.
Fitzpatrick sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 second then made his spectacular eagle from the sand.
“It was obviously a great start to the round,” Fitzpatrick said. “It puts you in great position, 3-under through three. For me, that’s ideally the start you need on a Saturday.”
Fitzpatrick blasted out of a bunker within three feet to set up a birdie at the par-5 fifth, then birdied from just inside six feet at the par-3 seventh and made a 23-foot birdie putt at the par-4 eighth.
After adding a six-foot birdie putt at the 13th hole, Fitzpatrick made his final birdie at the par-5 15th, blasting out of a greenside bunker to 16 feet and rolling in the putt.
At the par-3 17th, Fitzpatrick sank a 24-foot putt to rescue par.
“It’s important for the par save for the round, but just for me personally, I like to have a bogey-free round,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick, who first came to the course on family holidays in his youth, likes the layout.
“Aside from Augusta it’s my favorite golf course,” he said. “I love coming here to play it. I’ve not had the best results around here but I really enjoy the design, enjoy the test. It’s a great golf course.”
Cantlay birdied three of the last six holes to shoot a bogey-free 66.
“Gave myself a lot of chances and was able to hole some putts on the back nine,” Cantlay said. “Made a few I didn’t expect to make so it’s nice to see some putts go in.”
Three-time major winner Spieth also birdied three of the last six to shoot 66 but missed a par putt at 17 from just inside 17 that left him two off the lead.
“I thought it was really solid,” Spieth said. “Didn’t like dropping one on 17. Wish I hit a better putt, but it was a good day.”
© Agence France-Presse