Debutant Harrison Endycott has thrust himself into contention for an unlikely PGA TOUR win on debut following a stunning seven-under 65 in the third round of the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.
A recent graduate of the Korn Ferry Tour, Endycott cracked the face of his driver on just the second hole of his second round on Friday.Scrambling and grinding his way to a two-under 70 using his 3-wood off the tee, Endycott had to make birdie on his final hole in fading light to survive the cut.
He was the first man out on Saturday playing in a single and capitalised on the perfect conditions at the Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course, climbing 53 spots to be tied for sixth and just three shots off the lead more than an hour before the final group teed off.
Winner of the Huntsville Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour in May, Endycott expects the 54-hole lead to advance beyond 12-under but is excited at the prospect of contending for a win on Sunday.
“You’ve got the leaders and you’ve got some seriously good big names that have done this week in, week out,” said Endycott who has his father Brian with him until he returns to Sydney on Wednesday.
“I’m kind of expecting those guys to go out and post a number, so we’ll just see where it goes. Tonight I’ll set some goals and go forward for tomorrow.“
To be able to spend some time and watch me play some golf has been really special for me and my family.“It’s awesome to be going into Sunday in contention, too, while he’s here. Looking forward to getting after it.”
For the second time this week Endycott went bogey-free on Saturday.Unlike Thursday, however, this round was punctuated by seven birdies.It began with a birdie from three feet at the opening hole, a wedge to four feet setting up a second at the par-4 third.
In a round in which he hit 83 per cent of fairways it was the wedges that set up regular chances for birdie.
His third birdie was from inside three feet at the par-4 eighth and he two-putted for birdie at the par-5 ninth to turn in four-under.
He chipped in from the edge of the green at the par-3 11th, converted from 10 feet at the par-4 12th and capped a brilliant round with a tee shot inside three feet at the 165-yard par-3 15th.
He drained a putt from 14 feet for a crucial par save at 17 and closed out his round with a tap-in par at the par-5 18th.
“I played really nice out there today. Definitely helps when you’ve got a driver in the bag after yesterday’s shenanigans with the cracked driver face,” Endycott explained.
“This golf course is tough hitting 3-wood everywhere. So it was nice to get freed up, played some good golf today. Got the putter rolling. Had a bogey-free round on Thursday, didn’t make a birdie, so two bogey-free rounds. Means that I’m doing a lot of good things and just got to stay patient.
“And obviously first group in, there’s still a lot of golf, the rest of the guys out there, so hopefully we stay in contention and go get after it tomorrow.”
Fellow-Australian and great mate Aaron Baddeley also made a move on Saturday, climbing 22 spots to a tie for 37th with a round of three-under 69, Victorian Cameron Percy dropping to a tie for 65th with an even-par 72.
Like Endycott, Lucas Herbert will enter the final round of the DP World Tour’s DS Automobiles Open with thoughts of victory.Starting the weekend four shots behind 36-hole leader Rory McIlroy, Herbert posted two birdies and an eagle at the par-5 ninth to turn in four-under and earn a share of the lead.
An approach shot inside two feet set up a third birdie at the par-4 11th before worsening conditions led to dropped shots at 14 and 16 for a three-under 68.
He is now just two back of US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick (69) in a share of fourth and in a confident frame of mind as he chases a third DP World Tour title.
“I don’t think I need to do a lot different to be honest,” said Herbert, who has not posted a top-five finish in 2022.
“It’s just not a golf course that you’re going to see a lot of 63s and 62s on.
“There’s going to be a handful of guys that can win tomorrow, probably myself included. There’s five or six holes out there that just par is a really good score. You take care of that, try and stay out of the thick stuff too much and hope the putter rolls a couple in. That’s probably the formula.
“Spotting Rory four shots for the weekend, I thought was very generous to try and chase down.“To get off to that hot start and catch up a lot of the ground that I needed to over the weekend, all pretty quickly was good.”