Rickie Fowler birdied the last three holes to take the lead in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, overcoming a sluggish start in front of the largest crowd in golf history.
Justin Thomas went the other way, wasting a brilliant opening run with another late meltdown.
Fowler shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to reach 14-under 199 with a round left at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, the fan-friendly layout packed with an estimated 216,818 fans on an 80-degree afternoon.
“I really made some good swings coming in,” Fowler said. “I just wasn’t getting the ball close enough and finally on the last few there I was able to get some good looks.”
The fourth-ranked Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year after winning five times last season, birdied the first six holes to take the lead. But instead of making a run at his second sub-60 round in a little over a year, Thomas had to fight for an even-par 71 that left him eight shots back. He dropped six strokes in a three-hole stretch, making a bogey on the par-4 14th, a triple bogey on the par-5 15th and a double bogey on the rowdy par-3 16th. On Thursday in the first round, he had a double bogey on 16 and a bogey on 17.
Thomas left the course without speaking to the media.
Two tied in Malaysia
Lee Westwood couldn’t emulate his second-round 62 but did enough to stay in contention at the Maybank Championship after shooting a 70 to trail the leaders by three strokes at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Englishman managed only three birdies in comparison to his 11 on Friday.
Jorge Campillo of Spain and Dylan Frittelli of South Africa are the joint leaders after both shot 66s for 15 under overall at the European Tour event.
Khalin Joshi of India and Berry Henson of the United States trail the leaders by one shot after matching 65s.
Lee leads by one
Australian Minjee Lee shot a two-over 75 and held on to a one-stroke lead at the Vic Open at Barwon Heads, Australia, the first tournament of the year on the Ladies European Tour. Lee had a three-round total of seven-under 212, one better than fellow Australian Karis Davidson, who shot 67 Saturday.
Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, rebounded from a second-round 80 to shoot 69 and was five strokes behind Lee and tied for fifth.