Fortinet Championship 2022: Justin Lower shoots 69 to take the lead in one shot to reach the finals

NAPA, Calif. (AP) – Justin Lower weathered the wind and hit the 18th hole Saturday to lead a shot into the final round of the season-opening Fortinet Championship.

Three under 69 to under 13 at Silverado Resort & Spa, with his fifth birdie of the round, giving him his first career 54-hole lead on his 29th start on the PGA Tour. He is looking to win his first tour.

Defending champions Max Homa and Danny Willett were shot back after 72 seconds of parity. Byeong Hun An has 71 to go 11 below.

While some players hit the field early in the day with low scores in good playing conditions, the field became much more difficult later in the day when the wind picked up and ravaged the players.

It took Willett a few minutes on the eighth lawn to blow away leaves just before a birdie shot gave him a brief lead in under 13.

The worker with the leaf blower rushed out on the next hole to keep the green clean but Willett hit a double 7 after his approach shot flew over the green.

There is little chance of playing birds with players who are satisfied with the parser at the end of the day. That results in a very condensed ranking with eight players in the top three on Sunday.

An moved into a one-shot lead when he hit a solid par-3 tee at number 15 to and then made a birdie from about 6 feet to relegate to 13. But he returned it and further with a brace at par-5 16 when his second shot was caught near a tree stump.

That opened the door for Lower, who hit his second shot on the 18th par-5 right off the green and then made a short birdie putt.

It’s been quite a few weeks for Lower, who apparently lost his travel card after the last three Wyndham Championship home bets to a monster when he needed just one point to stay in the top 125. But After several defections from the LIV Tour, Lower is back in the top 125 and is taking advantage of this in the first tournament of the new season.

Conditions are not expected to be much better in the final, which has been altered by an ominous forecast of rain and wind. The leaders will tee off a few hours earlier than scheduled with the final round featuring threesomes splitting tees.

Davis Thompson and Harrison Endycott shot the low innings of the day with 65s, sending Harrison out four lanes for fifth with Paul Haley II, Matt Kuchar and Adam Svensson. Endycott was a shot behind in a four-way tie in ninth.

Finished first player on the court and singles in the first tournament of his career, making a birdie cut on the last hole of the second round. He passed a broken rider early on that lap and was happy to have all of his clubs on Saturday.

“It certainly helps when you have a driver in your pocket after yesterday’s crash with the driver’s face cracked,” he said. “This golf course is hard to hit 3-woods everywhere. So it was nice to be freed up and play some good golf today.”

Haley, who went 3,315 days between appearances on the tour from the 2013 Wyndham Championship to the start of this tournament, drew with Thompson in the group in 10th under after 66.

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