DETROIT (AP) — Tony Finau and Taylor Pendrith are in a Detroit duel.
Finau shot 7-under 65 on Saturday and matched Pendrith at 21-under 195 with a round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“If we put together a good round, there could be a two-man race,” said Finau.
Last week’s 3M Open winner in Minnesota, Finau is trying to become the first player to win a consecutive regular-season tournament in three years.
Pendrith said, “I probably have more pressure because I’ve never won before and Tony is a multiple winner and he won last week, a stroke ahead of entering round and out of the last five holes for 66. Had a birdie in four.
Pendrith took a third-round lead at the Bermuda Championships last October by three shots, before finishing with 76 and finishing a career fifth. In March, he was 13th in the Players Championship and came in with a career-best $327,222 payday and a broken rib.
Rookie of the Year front-runner Cameron Young (65) was four strokes behind. He broke the Detroit Golf Club’s record with 63 runs on Friday.
“I have to play a ridiculous round of golf to get any chance at all,” Young said.
Stephen Jagger was five shots behind after 65.
World number four Patrick Cantley was six shots behind on 66.
“I have to get off to a warm start and put the pedal down,” Cantley said. “Obviously there’s no defense to this golf course and there’s going to be a ton of birdies.”
Pendrith was the second-round leader after setting a tournament 36-hole record at 15-under 129. The 31-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Canada missed almost four months this year with a broken rib.
All afternoon, Pendrith and Finau pulled together alternately and fell into ties and took the lead.
“It’s almost like a match play situation where we flipped the script on each other in the beginning,” said Finau. “We’ve both done a great job up to this point maintaining our composure through 54 holes.”
Pendrith started with a 6-foot birdie put and took a two-shot lead. Finau pulled within a stroke on the next hole, leaving a rough 20-foot chip from greenside for the birdie.
“Keep warm, Tony!” A fan shouted at a player without a bogey this week.
Pendrith, who had a fan following of a 4-hour drive from Ontario, looked calm, fisting two young boys as he walked to the third tee.
“It was a great experience, a lot of energy from the crowd and the two played some solid golf and loved feeding each other,” said Finau. “It’s nice to have that kind of energy.”
Finau took the lead with a 15-foot put at No. 3, then Pendrith pulled his 3-foot put to miss a chance to stay ahead.
“Maybe a little nerdy,” he admitted.
Pendrith then put him into the No. 6 greenside rough with a wrong tee shot to the left on the par-5 631-yard fourth hole, traversing several giant tees along his way. He hit a shot from 104 yards for the hole, made an approach within 16 feet and putts to restore his one-stroke lead.
Finau equalized Pendrith’s 18-under turn after making birdies at No. 7 and 8, while Pendrith missed a 1-foot putt and made a bogey on the ninth hole.
Pendrith again finished behind a tree at number 13, forcing him to return to the fairway and lead to a bogey that dropped him into a second-place tie with Young.
“Just hit a bad tee ball and probably got a little bad brake right behind the tree,” Pendrith said.
Pendrith, who won twice on the PGA Tour Canada, returned from his second bogey with three straight birdies and was back in a tie with two holes to play.
“Getting three in a row after that was a huge pace boost and obviously established himself well with those three holes,” he said.
Finau went ahead with a birdie on 17, and Pendrith tied it again with a birdie on the 54th hole.
If Finau can beat the competition to win on Sunday, he will be the first person since Brendan Todd in 2019 to win two consecutive regular-season events.
Follow Larry Ledge at https://twitter.com/larrylage
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