Watney, Fowler share one-stroke leadNEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – OK, so the “moving day” saying is one of the oldest clichés in all of sports. But, on Saturday at the AT&T National it was about the only way to describe the action. The Aronimink Golf Club played to a scoring average that was two-strokes better than the first round, and the players took full advantage. Almost seemed like if you weren’t in position to tie, or at least challenge the course-record, you were getting lapped.
For background, the course-record of 64 was set by Justin Rose in the second round at last year’s tournament on his way to winning. K.J. Choi equaled the record on Friday, in his second round. On Saturday, four players matched that 64, but that wasn’t good enough to have honors for the day.
First, Chris Kirk broke the record with a 7 under 63, then it was tied by Steve Marino and finally Nick Watney established the new mark when he closed with a back-nine 27 and an 8 under 62. That got him to 9 under 201 and a share of the 54-hole lead with Rickie Fowler, one of the four to shoot 64.
“It played a lot easier than it did Thursday and Friday, that’s for sure,” said Marino.
What it set up was another shootout Sunday on tour, with a good number of players in with a chance. Choi, who led by two after 36 holes, rallied after a front-nine 37 and managed to post three birdies on his way to a back-nine 32 and stands alone in third at 8 under par.
Marino, Webb Simpson and Adam Scott are two back, while Kirk, Bill Haas, Chris Stroud, Bryce Molder, Jeff Overton and Charlie Wi trail by three.
Most of the players seemed appreciative of a course setup that was a bit easier than it was for the first two days. Tee boxes were moved up and water was put on greens to make a shorter course and softer greens, a perfect recipe for scoring.
“I think the greens are a bit softer than they could have been,” said Watney. “I heard they put some water on them. They gave us a drivable par-4. Other than that, I mean, I guess the greens are so good that you can really start making putts. But I'm not sure why there's so many low scores today whereas the first six rounds here it was very difficult.”
Fowler birdied three of his first four holes and was 5 under at the turn before cooling a bit for a 1 under back nine.
“I was hitting the ball well, driving it in the fairway, hitting it close and had some opportunities to make some birdies, so it was nice to get out of the front nine with 5-under,” Fowler said. “And made a couple birdies on the back, but there was a couple tougher pin placements and wasn't able to take advantage of some holes that set up for birdie. I made a tough bogey at 17, but not exactly an easy pin location there. All in all it was a good day, definitely good moving day, and in great position for tomorrow.”
Tee times were moved up and players will go out in threesomes on Sunday do to expected thunderstorms later in the day.
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