Ace helps Merritt to share of lead with Niemann at Rocket Mortgage Classic

By Sports Desk July 03, 2021

Troy Merritt joined Joaquin Niemann atop the leaderboard heading into the final round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic thanks in part to a remarkable hole-in-one. 

In search of his third PGA Tour title and first in nearly three years, Merritt was one stroke better than Niemann (68) in the third round and turned in the highlight of the day in Detroit. 

The American's tee shot on the 218-yard 11th bounced on the green and arced straight into the cup, setting off a celebration in the gallery. 

It was Merritt's first ace in PGA Tour play and momentarily gave him a three-shot lead, but he spent more time after the round stewing over his bogey on the following hole. 

"The big thing is, when you get out in front, don't go back to the guys behind you," he said. "Make them come and get you." 

Niemann enjoyed a steadier day, carding birdies on the first and last holes to book-end his third consecutive bogey-free round and sit at 14 under par for the tournament. 

The Chilean will try to run down his first win since the 2019 Greenbrier Classic on Sunday, but he and Merritt will have plenty of competition. 

Hank Leiboda (66) and Cam Davis (67) begin the final round one stroke back, with Brandon Hagy (68) two back at 12 under and six more golfers at 11 under. 

Among the notables down the leaderboard, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley are at nine under after carding 68s, with Bubba Watson (67) one stroke behind them. 

Former world number one Jason Day (69) is at seven under, Patrick Reed (70) at five under and Phil Mickelson at three under after a second consecutive round of 72. 

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