Matthew Wolff surged ahead when some of the other leaders got stuck in neutral near the end of the third round in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The 21-year-old Wolff, from Agoura Hills in Southern California, posted an 8-under-par 64 to take a three-stroke lead over 10th-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis and Ryan Armour at Detroit Golf Club.
“I’m trying not to worry so much,” said Wolff, who claimed his first PGA Tour title last year in the 3M Open soon after leaving Oklahoma State. “I have a mindset that I don’t care, but of course I do. It just helps take the pressure off a little bit.
“I came here with high expectations last year and missed the cut, then when to the 3M Open the next week with no expectations and I won. … But I feel like I’ve improved so much just being out here on the PGA Tour for a year, playing almost week-in-and week out, and learned so much because these guys are so good.”
Wolff, who captured the 2019 NCAA individual championship after helping Oklahoma State claim the team title in 2018, sank a 13-foot eagle putt on the 14th hole and added nine birdies in his second straight 64 while recording a 54-hole score of 19-under 197.
DeChambeau, 26, birdied four holes of the last six holes to shoot 67.
“To be honest, I’ve been driving the ball well every day and my ball-striking has been good,” said DeChambeau, who has six straight top-10 finishes but hasn’t won since claiming his fifth PGA Tour title in the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. “I just didn’t connect on very many putts. The greens got a little bumpy and you just have to deal with it.
“I’ve been working hard every week, just grinding. I want to give myself the best opportunity to win.”
Armour, 44, who led early on the back nine before Wolff passed him, holed a curling 21-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to match DeChambeau’s 64.
However, that came one hole after he made a double-bogey 7 on the 17th hole.
“That was huge to have the hole reach out and grab that putt at 18,” said Armour, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2017 Sanderson Farms Championship. “I didn’t think I hit a bad wedge on 17, but it got up in the air and the wind grabbed it, and I made double bogey.
“I took the first three weeks off (at the start of the three-month break because of the Coronavirus pandemic) to let my body heal because I had been working hard on a grip change. Then I got back to work and started over. I’m playing well, but it’s going to take some birdies to win and I have to give myself a lot of looks.”
Chris Kirk, a four-time champion on the PGA Tour who won two weeks ago on the Korn Ferry Tour and was a co-leader after round two in Detroit, carded a 70 and is five shots back in a tie for fourth with Seamus Power (69) of Ireland, Troy Merritt (67) and Mark Hubbard (69).
Sixth-ranked Webb Simpson, who won the RBC Heritage in his last start and was tied for the lead with Kirk after 36 holes, could manage only a 71 and is six behind in a tie for eighth with Wesley Bryan (65), Luke List (67), Viktor Hovland (67) of Norway and Matt Wallace (68).
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