Fowler eyes return to winner's circle at Honda Classic

Fowler eyes return to winner's circle at Honda Classic golf tournament

Miami (AFP) - Rickie Fowler fired five birdies in a five-under par 65 on Saturday to seize a four-shot lead over Tyrrell Hatton heading into the final round of the US PGA Tour Honda Classic.

Fowler, who started the day one shot behind co-leaders Ryan Palmer and Wesley Bryan, climbed methodically to the top of the leaderboard with birdies at the third, seventh, ninth, 16th and 18th holes.

His 13-under par total of 197 put him four strokes in front of England's Hatton, who carded a 66 for 201.

It was a further two strokes back to a group of five players on 203. That included Bryan, who carded a two-over 72, and Germany's Martin Kaymer, who posted a 68.

They were joined by Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, who signed for a 65, and Americans Sean O'Hair (65) and Gary Woodland (66).

After two-putting for birdie from 36 feet at the third, Fowler rolled in a 32-footer for a birdie at the seventh. He seized the solo lead at 11-under with an 11-foot birdie putt at the ninth, and drained another 11-footer at 16.

He padded his lead with another two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th to put himself in good position to claim a first title since his win in Abu Dhabi in January 2016.

He hasn't won on the US PGA Tour since he lifted two trophies in 2015.

Fowler made the most of benign conditions on Saturday, but was unfazed by the prospect of windy weather on Sunday.

"I love to play in the wind," he said, adding that he got used to playing in the wind as a youngster in southern California and while playing in college at Oklahoma State University.

"It's been known to blow in Oklahoma," he said. "The key is to hit the ball solid.

"Wind or no wind on this course, you still have to hit the ball in the fairway because there is trouble out there," he added. "It's a great golf course and it keeps you on your toes. I was able to avoid the trouble and make some birdies."

Fowler's 54-hole total is one off the record set by Davis Love in 2003.

Hatton, whose five victories as a professional include a European Tour win at the Alfred Dunill Links Championship last year, was just one stroke adrift after birdies at the 12th, 13th and 14th.

But he bogeyed 17 as Fowler birdied two of his last three.

"I'll go out there and play the best I can tomorrow, that's all I can do," said Hatton, who finished equal fifth in the Open Championship and tied for 10th in the PGA Championship last year.

"I can only control what I do and we'll see how it goes."