Watney fires course record to grab share of AT&T lead

LEONARD SHAPIRO, Reuters

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

NEWTOWN SQUARE, PENN. - American Nick Watney fired a course record eight-under 62 to grab a share of the third round lead with Rickie Fowler at the AT&T National at Aronimink on Saturday.

After stumbling into the turn with bogeys on eight and nine, Watney caught fire and carded six birdies plus an eagle at the par five 16th.

Fowler also had a sizzling afternoon and returned a six-under 64 to join Watney on nine-under 201 for the tournament.

Lurking one shot back is 36-hole leader K.J. Choi of South Korea, who rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the 18th for a one-under 69.

Australian Adam Scott (66), Steve Marino (63) and Webb Simpson (64) were tied for fourth at seven-under 203.

In all, seven players posted rounds of 64 or better.

Fowler, 22, looking for his first career victory in his second season on the PGA Tour, birdied three of his first four holes.

A birdie on 16 put the young American at 10-under but Fowler immediately gave the shot back with a bogey at 17 to drop into a tie for first.

“Before I teed off I saw some low scores and knew that birdies were definitely out there,” Fowler told reporters. “My game has been good all week. Prior to the round, I knew it was possible to take it low today. The conditions were perfect.”

Watney caught fire on his back nine on a steamy day in the Philadelphia suburbs on a course far more vulnerable to low scoring than in the previous two rounds because of softer greens and easier pin placements.

Sizzling Watney

After a sloppy bogey at the ninth hole and even par 35 on the front, Watney produced a sizzling back nine highlighted by a two-putt eagle at 16.

“Well, eight under par is the most I’ve ever gone (for nine holes),” Watney said. “In the back of my mind, I knew that (30-foot) putt at 18 was for nine-under, which would have been pretty cool. But no complaints.

“The ball was going where I was looking and by the time I looked up, I was eight-under par.“

His 62 broke a record set earlier in the day by Marino and Kirk. The old record of 64 had only been set on Friday by Choi, who had four front nine bogeys on saturday but rallied on the back nine to post his third straight round in the 60s.

“I think they had to have watered the greens last night,“ Marino said, explaining so many low scores. “They were nice with the pins in some accessible spots.

“I’m not the only one to shoot a number out there.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do tonight, but I don’t think they’re going to water the greens. I think they might be a little mean tomorrow.“

Vijay Singh of Fiji, who was tied for 13th at two-under 138 after 36 holes, withdrew before the start of the third round because of a sore back.


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