DETROIT (AP) – Tony Finau and Taylor Pendrith are in a Detroit duel.
Finau shot a seven-under 65 yesterday to match Pendrith at 21-under 195 with a round left in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“If we put together a good round, might be a two-man race,” Finau said.
The 3M Open winner last week in Minnesota, Finau is trying to become the first to win consecutive regular-season tournaments in three years.
“I probably have more pressure just because I’ve never won before and Tony’s a multiple winner and he won last week,” said Pendrith, who was a stroke a ahead entering the round and birdied four of the last five holes for a 66.
Pendrith had third-round lead by three shots last October at the Bermuda Championship before closing with a 76 and finishing a career-high fifth. In March, he was 13th at the Players Championship and came away with a career-best USD327,222 payday – and a broken rib.
Rookie of the year front-runner Cameron Young (65) was four strokes back. He matched the Detroit Golf Club record with a 63 on Friday.
Stephan Jaeger was five shots back after a 65.
Patrick Cantlay, number four in the world ranking, was six shots behind after a 66.
Pendrith was the second-round leader after setting the tournament 36-hole record at 15-under 129. The 31-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Canada missed nearly four months this year with a broken rib.
All afternoon, Pendrith and Finau took turns pulling and falling into ties and taking leads.
“It’s almost like a match play situation where we kind of flipped the script there on each other in the beginning,” Finau said. “We both have done a great job up to this point through 54 holes of maintaining our composure.”
Pendrith opened with six-foot birdie putt to take a two-shot lead. Finau pulled within a stroke on the next hole, making a 20-foot chip from the greenside rough for birdie.
“Stay hot, Tony!” a fan shouted at a player without a bogey this week.
Pendrith, who had his share of fans make the four-hour drive from in Ontario, looked cool as calm as he bumped fists with two young boys as he walked to the third tee.
“It had a nice feel to it, a lot of energy from the crowd and both played some solid golf and kind of feeding off each other,” Finau said. “It was nice to have that type of energy.”
Finau pulled into the lead with a 15-foot putt at number three, then Pendrith pulled his three-foot putt to miss an opportunity to stay ahead.
Pendrith followed that up with an errant tee shot to the left on the par-five 631-yard fourth hole that put him in the number six greenside rough, leaving him behind several towering tees in his path. He hit a shot 104 yards to the hole, an approach within 16 feet and made the putt to restore his one-stroke lead.
Finau equalled Pendrith at 18 under at the turn after making birdies at numbers seven and eight while Pendrith missed a one-foot putt and make bogey on the ninth hole.
Pendrith ended up behind a tree again at number 13, forcing him to chip back onto the fairway and leading to a bogey that dropped him into a second-place tie with Young.
“Just kind of hit a poor tee ball and maybe got a little bit of a bad break right behind the tree,” Pendrith said.
Pendrith, who won twice on PGA Tour Canada, bounced back from his second bogey with three straight birdies to pull back into a tie with two holes to play.
Finau went ahead at 17 with a birdie, and Pendrith tied it again with a birdie on the 54th hole.
If Finau can outlast the competition to win today, he will be the first to win two straight regular-season events since Brendon Todd in 2019.