Rickie Fowler distanced himself from the pack on Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, taking a five-shot lead into the final round. Here’s how Moving Day played out at TPC Scottsdale:
Leaderboard: Fowler (-20). Matt Kuchar (-16), Justin Thomas (-15), Branden Grace (-13), Byeong Hyun An (-13), Gary Woodland (-12), Bubba Watson (-12)
What it means: Fowler is in position to win this event, again. Like, again-again-again. Fowler held the 54-hole lead last year, closed in 73 and tied for 11th. He tied for fourth in 2017 and lost in a four-hole playoff to Hideki Matsuyama in 2016.
Fowler was 54th in final-round scoring average a season ago, but has improved to 23rd on Tour in three starts this campaign. He’ll need to go low on Sunday as the winner of this event over the last four years has averaged 65.75.
Round of the day: Fowler’s 7-under 64 tied for the low round of the day and it was easily the most impressive. Fowler started the third round with a one-shot advantage over Thomas, and proceeded to birdie four of his first six holes out of the gate. He held a five-shot advantage quickly and, thanks to a total of eight birdies to just one bogey, finished four clear with 18 holes to go.
Best of the rest: Kuchar, already a two-time winner this season, emerged as Fowler's primary challenger, thanks to a 6-under 65. Kuchar has made only two bogeys all week. Chez Reavie tied the low round of the day with his 64. That moved him up 41 spots to T-12.
Biggest disappointment: Thomas. Yes, he shot 68, but that was all because of a strong back nine. While Fowler – Thomas’ roommate for the week – was ripping off birdies on the front, Thomas shot 1-over 36 and fell five strokes in arrears. If not for four birdies on the inward half, Thomas would be completely out of the Sunday mix.
Shot of the day: As mentioned, Fowler birdied four of his first six holes to separate himself. That birdie run included this 37-footer at the par-4 fifth.
Quote of the day: “It’s been a pleasure, absolutely. I appreciate all the people out there. I tried to do a lot of commentating for you out there, and I’m glad you accepted my form of commentating, which was not normal." - Johnny Miller, signing off in his final broadcast Saturday