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Garber made the cut right on the number Friday thanks to an eagle at 17, allowing him to stick around for the weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. Tony Paul, The Detroit News

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Detroit — Joey Garber made a late-round eagle to make the cut on the number Friday.

On Saturday, with a bit less stress knowing that no matter what, he's getting a paycheck this week — and giving friends and family two more days to watch him play golf — the Petoskey native fired an early 4-under 68 to move up the leaderboard during the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

Let's go back to that Friday eagle, though. Early in Round 2, the projected cut line was 3 under. It then moved to 4 in the afternoon. And late in the round, it got all the way to 5.

And Garber knew it as he was playing the par-5 17th.

"Fortunately, I was playing with Viktor (Hovland) and so there were a few leaderboards, so I knew there was a chance it was gonna go to 5," Garber said. "I hit a great tee shot, had it in the first cut (of rough), I had 231 (yards) to the front (of the green), 243 to the hole. And I hit a perfect 4 iron that went about 20 feet past."

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The putt was actually 24 feet, 10 inches beyond the hole, and it was no walk in the park, like nothing is when you're above the hole on Donald Ross courses.

Garber thought he had a good read on the putt, but his caddie stepped in and pointed out there was some break to the right at the end.

Garber listened, his caddie was right, and the putt went in the hole.

"The first 20 feet it was going left, and the last 5 feet it says it's gonna go back right a little bit," said his caddie, John Davenport. "Luckily, that's exactly what it did."

Garber let out an animated fist pump, which he acknowledged his out of character for him. He's cool and calm, if the long hair didn't give it away.

And Davenport, of course, he was excited, too.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "I mean, that's how I make my living, too."

It's not always easy for a golfer to trust his caddie's eyes over his own, but Garber said he and Davenport have a "special relationship."

"We've been together for over a year now, and we're kind of inseparable," Garber said. "I trust him with all the reads and all the clubs."

Still, the work wasn't done. Garber — the PGA Tour rookie whose best showing was a tie for 10th at February's Puerto Rico (when he wore a Tigers cap) — still needed to make at least par on the par-4 18th, which has big trouble left and right, so he tried calming himself down, took a couple deep breaths and striped the tee shot.

From there, the rest was easy, he said. A ho-hum par earned him the weekend. 

Saturday's third round started featured a tough front nine, with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 9, bogeys Garber called "sloppy." A birdie on No. 10 got him going, and he made three more coming in to complete his 68, following Friday's 72, and Thursday's 67.

Garber had done some work on the putting green late Friday night, and he said it paid off in a big way Saturday (he needed just 27 putts). And after Round 3 Saturday, he was heading to the range for some additional practice — in his bid to put a cherry on top of what's been a great experience this week, coming home.

"I really can't," said Garber, 27, when asked to put this whole week into words. "I mean, the Tigers game, the first pitch, being in the press box, what a cool start to the week for me. A lot of bucket-list opportunities for me checked off.

"And just to have my friends and family here, I'm sure it's fun for them, and it's even more fun for me."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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