Tommy Fleetwood has won in Scotland, South Africa, China and Kazakhstan and he is in position to add a long overdue title in America to his CV heading into the final round of the Valspar Championship.
Still awaiting a maiden PGA Tour win having seen his English compatriots Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick (US Open) crack the code while Justin Rose also returned to the winner’s enclosure recently, Fleetwood carded two birdies and sixteen pars in a remarkably solid round at Innsbruck to lie just one shot off Adam Schenk on seven-under.
Fleetwood has come close before Stateside, with three top five finishes across the US Open and US PGA and he believes once he wins once, the floodgates will open.
“I’ve always loved playing all around the world. I enjoy coming to work on the PGA TOUR. I love playing golf over here. I love the standard of golf over here,” said Fleetwood who was in contention after 54 holes at the PLAYERS.
“I’ve had my chances before and it’s not happened for me, but I think I’ve got a lot of events left in me and I don’t plan on winning once I would like to win multiple, multiple times. When my day comes that will be great. Hopefully it’s tomorrow, who knows.
“But I think putting myself into contention more often and like I have done playing late last week on Sunday, tomorrow I’ll be out late on Sunday and I think that’s the first step to winning, putting yourself in contention. Then we’ll go from there. But, yeah, I would love to get my first win out here and then push on from there. I’m excited about the challenge again and we’ll see.”
At the top of the leaderboard sits Adam Schenk who holds a one-shot lead over Spieth and Fleetwood as he goes after his first victory on the PGA TOUR.
Eight players were within three shots of the lead. Webb Simpson had a 68 that included a bogey on the par-5 14th when he hit into the water while trying to lay up. He was two shots behind, along with Taylor Moore (69) and Cody Gribble (70), who had short birdie putts on the 16th and 17th hole and narrowly missed a 20-footer in his bid to birdie all three holes as part of the “Snake Pit” on the Copperhead course.
Patton Kizzire had a 67 and posted early, not sure where that would leave him. Spieth had a lot to do with that and he wound up keeping everyone close.
“Eventful,” is how Spieth described his round.
He missed a 5-foot par putt on No. 7. He hit 6-iron to 12 feet for birdie on No. 8. He missed a 7-foot par putt on the 10th, and then hit a bunker shot that landed in the collar and bounced out to 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 11th.
Spieth followed a three-putt bogey on the 13th with a 3-wood to 35 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 14th. It was like that throughout the back nine, and Spieth looked to have settled down with a 10-foot par putt on the 17th, only to send his tee shot into the trees on 18.
“I made a few too many mistakes, but overall in these conditions, I think I would have signed for 2 under,” Spieth said.
The weather was as wild as his round, gusting to 20 mph and shifting to an entirely different direction as the final groups were on the back nine. Players were hitting 9-iron into the par-3 17th earlier in the round, and Gribble had to hit 5-iron late in the day.
Rain that was expected never arrived, though Innisbrook was expecting showers overnight that could put a premium on scoring.