NEW YORK (AFP) – Chez Reavie had seven back-nine birdies in a seven-under par 63 on Saturday, surging to a six-shot lead in the US PGA Tour Travelers Championship as overnight leader Zack Sucher stumbled.
Sucher, ranked 505th in the world and trying to get his career back on track after a series of leg injuries, was sailing along with five-shot lead at 15-under before disaster hit on the back nine at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
He had stretched his lead with four front-nine birdies before a bogey at the 10th. That was followed by a double-bogey at the par-three 11th, where he needed two shots to get out of a bunker, finally firing 30 feet past the pin.
Sucher found a fairway bunker off the tee at 12 and was in a greenside bunker with his third shot, finally two-putting for another double-bogey that dropped him to 10-under.
Meanwhile Reavie, in search of his first tour title since 2008 and coming off a tie for third at the US Open at Pebble Beach, was roaring home.
He started the day tied for second, two off Sucher’s lead and had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine, trailing by as many as six.
“It was crazy,’’ Reavie said. ‘’Zack came out he was making birdies early. I was just trying to hang in there.
“It was playing really tough and I was just trying to hit as many greens as I could and give myself some looks.’’
Reavie opened the back nine with four straight birdies, launching the run with a 24-foot birdie putt at the 10th and capping it by getting up and down for birdie from a bunker at 13.
He added another birdie at 15 before closing with back-to-back birdies for a 16-under par total of 194, six shots clear of Sucher, who signed for a one-over 71 and was tied on 200 with Keegan Bradley, who carded a 69.
“I think we got the wind really dialed in on the back nine,’’ Reavie said. “I was able to just kind of roll with it. Using the good energy, making a few putts, having the people cheering you on – it’s a lot of fun.’’
He had room to spare a thought for Sucher, who was sidelined all of 2018 after left knee and ankle surgery.
“Zack, I feel bad for him,’’ Reavie said. ‘’He had some tough breaks, didn’t really hit that bad of shots.’’
It was a further stroke back to Australian Jason Day (68) and Mexico’s Roberto Diaz (67) on 201.
Sucher had company in the tough day department as world number one Brooks Koepka had four bogeys and a double-bogey in a two-over 72 that left him 15 shots adrift.
Koepka making his third start in as many weeks and coming off a runner-up finish to Gary Woodland at the US Open, admitted he was “fried’’.
‘’My body is starting to ache, too,’’ said Koepka, who finished tied for second behind Tiger Woods at the Masters and won the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May.
He admitted the torrid pace of the revamped schedule had caught up with him, although he wasn’t sorry since the fatigue was the price of contending frequently.