Fitzpatrick hits career low to surge into RBC Heritage lead ahead of Cantlay and Spieth

By Sports Desk April 15, 2023

Reigning U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick moved into a one-shot lead from Patrick Cantlay at the RBC Heritage with a bogey-free eight-under 63.

Fitzpatrick surged up the leaderboard on the third day at Harbour Town Golf Links with a hole-out eagle from 149 yards out on the par-four third hole.

The 28-year-old Englishman's 63 was a new career-low score, highlighted by four birdies along with the eagle on his front nine 30.

Fitzpatrick leads at 14 under from Cantlay (13 under) and Jordan Spieth (12 under) who carded five-under 66s on the third day.

Cantlay enjoyed a bogey-free round of five under, managing three birdies in four holes on the back nine, while Spieth bogeyed on the par-three 17th, seeing him drop two strokes off the lead.

Halfway leader Jimmy Walker slipped down the leaderboard with a one-over 72, meaning he is tied for fourth at 11 under with Taylor Moore, Mark Hubbard, Tommy Fleetwood and Scottie Scheffler.

Last week's Masters champion Jon Rahm was unable to build on his second-day 64, despite starting with three straight birdies.

Rahm's run stalled with a double bogey on the fourth, eventually carding a two-under 69 to be back at eight-under overall.

Keegan Bradley had the second-best round of the day behind Fitzpatrick, moving to nine-under overall and joint 16th with a bogey-free seven-under 64.

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    According to reports from ESPN, Scheffler faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

    The start of Friday's second round in Kentucky was delayed due to a traffic incident outside the course.

    Louisville Metro Police Department said a bus had struck and killed a pedestrian in the incident, which Scheffler was reportedly attempting to navigate to enter the course.

    Pre-tournament favourite Scheffler carded a four-under-par 67 in the first round on Thursday, putting him five strokes behind early pacesetter Xander Schauffele. 

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    Rory McIlroy felt relieved to have salvaged a five-under 66 from a "scrappy" opening round at the PGA Championship as he and a host of other big names chase Xander Schauffele in Kentucky.

    Schauffele leads at Valhalla Golf Club after carding a historic 62 on the first day, with fellow Americans Tony Finau, Sahith Theegala and Mark Hubbard in a tie for second place at six under, three off the lead.

    McIlroy is in a large group that also contains Collin Morikawa, sitting four shots off the pace at –5.

    Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler are also among the prominent players chasing Schauffele, as they sit on four under after Thursday's action.

    It was a more difficult day for Jon Rahm, who shot a one-under 70, but he would have gladly taken that score when he had bogeyed four of his first six holes, while Tiger Woods is at +1 after a 72.

    McIlroy's last major win came in 2014 at this tournament and venue. He came into the event in form after two straight wins and remains in contention despite not playing at his peak.

    "I rode my luck a little bit," McIlroy said to Sky Sports. "I hope I can drive it like Rory in 2014 over the next few days as I didn't drive it very well [in round one]. 

    "My fairway woods were okay. My scrambling and iron play is coming together, so if I can do all that and hit fairways I am feeling pretty good.

    "I sort of felt like it was pretty scrappy for the most part. I don't really feel like I left many out there and I thought I got a lot out of my game.

    "Had some good up-and-downs, the chip-in on six. I had a little bit of a scrappy part around the turn there, but not really happy with how I played but I am at least happy with the score."

    Masters champion Scheffler will focus on his own game instead of focusing too much on Schauffele's stunning exploits.

    "Yeah, I mean, there's nothing I can do," Scheffler said. "Xander went out and played a great round in the morning, and I'm not really going to worry about trying to shoot 9-under. I'm just going to go out and try to hit good shots and play my own game.

    "I'd like to clean up a few of the mistakes. I missed two putts I felt like I should have holed, but that's going to happen when the greens get a little chewed up. A couple things I can clean up going into Friday, but overall it was a solid round."

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    "I am getting stronger for sure," Woods said. "It's just that I don't play a whole lot of competitive rounds. 

    "Each day is a little bit different. Some days, it's better than others. It's just the way it is. My body is just that way. Some days, it feels great, and others a bit of a struggle.

    "I struggled with the speed of the greens. It was a grind. I should have been under par for the day but I am over par and we have a long way to go.

    "It is a big-boy golf course. It has gotten longer or maybe I have just got shorter!"

    Schauffele sunk nine birdies in a bogey-free round to take the lead. It is just the fourth time a 62 has been carded at a major, with Schauffele matching the record both he and Rickie Fowler equalled in round one of the 2023 US Open.

    Branden Grace had previously gone round in 62 at The Open in 2017, though those efforts all came on par-70 courses, whereas Valhalla is a par-71.

    Schauffele also beat the course record of 63, set by Jose Maria Olazabal in 2000.

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    Schauffele sunk nine birdies in a bogey-free round to take the lead at Valhalla Golf Club.

    It is just the fourth time a 62 has been carded at a major, with Schauffele matching the record both he and Rickie Fowler equalled in round one of the 2023 US Open.

    Branden Grace had previously gone round in 62 at The Open in 2017, though those efforts all came on par-70 courses, whereas Valhalla is a par-71.

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    "It's a great start," said the world number three, who has not won a trophy since the 2022 Scottish Open.

    "I think not winning makes you want to win more, as weird as that is.

    "For me, at least, I react to it, and I want it more and more and more."

    Rory McIlroy came in at five under, having carded a fine 66, while Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala went round in 65, while reigning champion Brooks Koepka managed an admirable four under.

    Meanwhile, Tiger Woods went round in 72, at one over par.

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