Washington - Nate
Lashley, the last player to make the field, fired a nine-under par 63
to seize a six-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the PGA
Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The 36-year-old American, ranked 353rd in the world, turned in a
bogey-free round - the lowest score of the day - to stand on 23-under
193 after 54 holes at Detroit Golf Club with compatriot J.T. Poston
second on 199.
"It was just one of those days when it seemed like nothing could go
wrong," Lashley said.
"Everything went right. Even when I didn't hit
good shots, it went all right."
Both Lashley and Poston are in position to capture the two available
spots from this week's event for next month's British Open at Royal
Cameron Tringale was third on 200 with 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed another stroke back after both shot 65 on Saturday.
It would be an amazing long-sought victory, and in wire-to-wire
fashion, for Lashley, who has had to overcome tragedy in his career.
When he was a junior at the University of Arizona, his parents and
girlfriend died in a plane crash while flying home from watching him
play in a tournament.
After a knee injury cut short his 2018 PGA debut season, Lashley is
playing on a secondary exemption after starting the season on a medical
extension, his 2019/20 season status uncertain.
No alternate has won a PGA title since Vaughn Taylor at Pebble Beach
in 2016, but no player shooting 193 or better for 54 holes has lost this
season, Rickie Fowler winning in Phoenix and Matt Kuchar winning at
Mayakoba and the Sony Open in Hawaii.
"I'm just trying to stay in my routine and hit good shots," Lashley said.
"We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Lashley, who only made the event when David Berganio withdrew on
Wednesday, sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, added
back-to-back birdies on a five-foot putt at the par-5 fourth and a
13-footer at the par-3 fifth, then put his approach inside five feet and
birdied the par-5 seventh to seize command at 18-under for the
tournament, making the turn in the lead by two strokes.
"It was nice to get off to a good start," Lashley said.
"It calmed my nerves a little bit."
After opening the back nine with a birdie, Lashley sank a four-footer
to birdie 12 and a three-footer to birdie the par-5 14th to reach
21-under, stretching his advantage to five shots.
Lashley lipped out on a 10-foot birdie putt at 16 but sank a
nine-footer for birdie at the par-5 17th and a four-footer to birdie the
Lashley shared 28th at the US Open two weeks ago, making his major debut at Pebble Beach.
Tringale, seeking his first PGA title, made eight birdies but a closing bogey dropped him seven adrift of Lashley.
"I did everything well today," Tringale said.
"Just trying to play
with poise and let the round come to me. So far it's paying off."
Reed, who hasn't won since taking his first major title last year at
Augusta National, hasn't managed a top-10 finish since sharing seventh
at last October's WGC event in China.
"To continue hitting the ball well and make the putts, it lets me
know it's really close," Reed said.
"To get that validation really
scores after Saturday's third round of the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage
Classic at Detroit Golf Club (par-72, USA unless noted):
193 - Nate Lashley 63-67-63
199 - J.T. Poston 70-63-66
200 - Cameron Tringale 68-67-65
201 - Patrick Reed 68-68-65
202 - Doc Redman 68-67-67, Wes Roach 67-68-67, Rory Sabbatini (SVK) 65-69-68, Peter Malnati 68-66-68
203 - Brian Stuard 66-72-65, Im Sung-jae (KOR) 69-68-66, Hideki
Matsuyama (JPN) 68-67-68, Ted Potter 68-67-68, Joaquin Niemann (CHI)
68-66-69, An Byeong-hun (KOR) 68-66-69, Charles Howell 65-67-71
204 - Brandt Snedeker 70-69-65, Talor Gooch 65-72-67, Kevin Streelman 66-70-68
205 - Aaron Wise 69-69-67, Jason Kokrak 66-71-68, Nick Watney
64-72-69, Sepp Straka (AUT) 68-67-70, J.B. Holmes 67-68-70, Harris
206 - Wyndham Clark 68-70-68, Danny Lee (NZL) 66-71-69, Denny McCarthy 69-68-69, Martin Piller 66-69-71, Cameron Champ 66-65-75