LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Rickie Fowler fired eight birdies in a seven-under par 64 on Saturday to stretch his lead to four strokes heading into the final round of the Phoenix Open.
Fowler, in search of his fifth PGA Tour title and his first since the 2017 Honda Classic, had a 20-under par total of 193 at TPC Scottsdale, where he held the 54-hole lead last year but finished tied for 11th.
‘‘We’ve led for three rounds, now why not make it four,’’ said Fowler, who has converted just one of his six prior 54-hole leads to a victory.
He has some breathing room, with a four-shot lead over US veteran Matt Kuchar, who had six birdies in a sparkling six-under 65 that put him on 197.
Kuchar, 40, is in search of his third win of the season, after victories in the Mayakoba Classic and the Sony Open.
‘‘Good, steady golf again,’’ Kuchar said. ‘‘I’ve been playing some nice golf. I’m excited to be in the final group tomorrow.’’
Justin Thomas, who started the day one stroke off Fowler’s lead, nabbed four of his five birdies on the back nine in a 68 that put him alone in third on 198.
He was two strokes in front of South Korean An Byeong-hun (66) and South African Branden Grace (69).
Fowler separated himself from his pursuers with four birdies in his first six holes – including a 37-footer at the fifth.
Fowler called the long birdie putts – including his 18-footer at the first – a bonus.
‘‘Took advantage of some opportunities,’’ he said. ‘‘It was fun.’’
After his lone bogey of the day, from a greenside bunker at the seventh, Fowler picked up three more birdies coming in at the ninth, 11th and 13th.