'It's massive': Patrick Reed within striking distance after clutch putt on No. 18
Detroit – Patrick Reed closed his third round with a fist-pump Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
No, it didn’t come with the gusto of Reed’s celebrations in the Ryder Cup, but the putt was nearly as meaningful for the most recognizable player near the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the inaugural PGA Tour event at Detroit Golf Club.
It saved par for the 25th-ranked golfer in the world and, for a short time at least, allowed him to at least keep leader Nate Lashley in range, albeit long range.
“Oh, it's massive,” Reed said. “There's nothing I hate more than bogeying the last hole because it just has a bad taste in your mouth going into that night, it's a bad taste in the morning the next day. So with how I was playing, I knew I had to go out and at least finish off the round and at least try to make par, because we were thinking front left was the miss there and it's not a very fun spot. To have that eight-footer with how much break it had, to hit another good putt and see it go in definitely keeps the confidence up.”
The 7-under 65 Reed fired tied for the second-best round of the day, and at most events, that would be enough to make things interesting on Sunday.
This week, it might not matter, considering leader Nate Lashley played a flawless third round. He made nine birdies for his second 63 of the week to finish at 23-under, six ahead of J.T. Poston and eight clear of Reed.
The only hope at this point for Reed is that Lashley falters. However, Reed isn’t exactly counting on that.
“You know, all these players these days on the PGA Tour are really good,” Reed said, well before Lashley posted his score. “They're great golfers. That's the reason why they're here, that's the reason why they're in the lead and have a chance to win on Sundays.
“It's just going to come down to how far behind I am going into tomorrow and how low do I have to really go to have a chance, because you can't expect the leaders to just shoot even, 1- or 2-under around here. You have to expect them to shoot in the 60s. So I'm just going to have to shoot, I'm thinking, 7 or 8 (under) tomorrow to have probably a legitimate shot at winning this golf tournament.”
While the tournament’s big names mostly flamed out – Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland and Bubba Watson all missed the cut while Rickie Fowler is well off the pace – Reed is the most well-known player anywhere near the top of the leaderboard.
However, it’s been a tough year for Reed. He has just one top-10 finish after not having fewer than four in the past six seasons. But with his play this week, Reed feels like things are coming together.
“I think that was the biggest thing, because we all knew I was really close to low scores, we knew we were close to some great golf,” Reed said. “And then on top of it, when you're just not getting those numbers, it's just frustrating. You're at home, you're like, ‘I feel like I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing, what's going on?’ So you need rounds like this to validate and to show yourself that you are on the right path, you're doing the right things, and it actually is closer than some of the scores show.”
Doc Redman is trying to get two wins this week.
His first came Monday with a 62 at the open qualifier as Redman shot the course record at The Orchards to earn a spot in the field. And while getting a win on Sunday might be a stretch considering the way Lashley is playing, all is not lost for Redman.
He shot his second straight 5-under 67 on Saturday to get to 14-under and sit nine back of the lead. More importantly, Redman is three back of second-place J.T. Poston. A solo second-place finish or a two-way tie for second would earn Redman a special temporary membership for the remainder of the season.
Not bad for a player who appears regularly on the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour.
“It was a good round today,” Redman said. “I played really well, putted well, hit my wedges better than yesterday and just hung in there, really.”
Redman, the 2017 U.S. Amateur champion, is playing his eighth PGA Tour start and second this season. He tied for 18th at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of what I can,” he said. “This was a good opportunity for me. The course is awesome and fits me well. I’m out here having a good time and I don’t think there’s any pressure.”