So you didn’t catch the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Saturday? Fear not. Here are all the highlights, top stories, and everything else you may have missed from an exciting Round 3 at Bay Hill.
Rory becomes the story with Saturday charge
If there’s one player you need to keep an eye on Sunday, there’s no question it’s Rory McIlroy. Rory is the defending champion here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he looked like it on Saturday.
McIlroy fired a six-under 66 to reach eight under for the tournament by day’s end. His near-flawless round featured seven birdies and just one bogey, leaving him one shot off the lead heading into Sunday.
Rory is off to a great start so far this season after a relatively quiet year in 2018. In fact, he hasn’t finished outside the top 5 since the calendar turned.
He finished T4 at the Tournament of Champions to start the year in Hawaii, then followed that up with a T5 at the Farmers Insurance Open and a T4 at the Genesis Open at Riviera. His best result of the year was a runner-up finish at the WGC-Mexico two weeks ago.
If McIlroy can put together one more good round and win his second-straight title at Bay Hill, it should give him all the momentum he needs to capture his first green jacket at the Masters next month.
Fitzpatrick makes his case on Moving Day
There’s one player who stands directly in McIlroy’s way: Matthew Fitzpatrick. The English pro shot up the leaderboard with a five-under 67 on Saturday. That gives him a narrow one-shot lead over Rory heading into Sunday’s final round.
Fitzpatrick was a much-heralded player when he was first started making noise in pro events. The 24-year-old European tour player won the 2013 U.S. Amateur, and then won the Silver Medal as low amateur at the 2014 Open Championship.
He’s collected five European tour victories over his brief career but has yet to win a PGA Tour event. His best finish at a major was T7 at the 2016 Masters.
Fowler fails to make up ground
Rickie Fowler is without a doubt a fan favorite at Bay Hill (as he is most weeks), but an opening-round 74 left him with a lot of ground to make up over the final 54 holes, and 36 holes later he still has a long way to go.
Fowler traded birdies and bogeys all day in Round 3. Despite making five birdies, Rickie signed for a one-under 71 on Saturday. He currently sits at even par, nine shots behind Fitzpatrick.
Sam Saunders flirts with fairy tale, then falls back
If you had to pick one player who no one would have a problem with winning this week, it would be hard to choose anyone other than Sam Saunders.
The young pro happens to be Arnold Palmer’s grandson, and through five holes on Saturday it looked like he was setting himself up for a magical victory at his grandfather’s tournament.
Saunders was already in contention when he began the third round, and back-to-back birdies at holes 4 and 5 pushed him to five under for the tournament. But a triple bogey at the par-5 6th derailed Saunders’s storybook day. He finished with a two-over 73.