Canadian Taylor Pendrith birdied the first four holes of his round Friday and turned in a 7-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead over Tony Finau at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
Pendrith and Finau were tied for the lead after Thursday. After the second round, Pendrith reached 15-under 129 and Finau’s 66 got him to 14 under par.
They’ll play in the final pairing Saturday afternoon at Detroit Golf Club and see if they can leave the field in the dust. Lee Hodges (66 Friday) was alone in third at 12 under and three players — Cameron Young (63), Russell Henley (65) and Stewart Cink (66) — were at 10 under.
Pendrith, 31, is ranked No. 237 in the Official World Golf Ranking and looking for his first win on tour. He is also playing his third event since a roughly four-month break caused by a fractured rib.
He poured in eight birdies, including a 2-foot tap-in at the second after an accurate approach, while making just one bogey.
A native of nearby Ontario, Pendrith felt like playing in Detroit was a home game.
“Close to home, have some family and friends higher, lots of ‘Go Canada’ cheers out there, people were singing the national anthem, so it’s pretty cool,” Pendrith said. “I feel very welcomed here and I love the golf course, so looking forward to the weekend.”
Finau won last week’s PGA Tour stop, the 3M Open, and kept the momentum going in Detroit. His bogey-free 66 featured six birdies, five coming on the back nine to surge into second.
“I’ve been working extremely hard on my game all year and I think I’m just kind of bearing the fruit of the labor I’ve had throughout this season and it’s coming together for me late in the season,” Finau said.
Hodges played with Pendrith for the first two rounds and, in fact, matched Pendrith birdie for birdie over the first four holes Friday. Hodges’ 66 kept him within striking distance for the weekend.
“Got off to another really nice start, which is cool, and just kind of had some nice up-and-downs. Didn’t hit it as well as I did yesterday, but chipping and putting kind of saved me today, so it was nice.”
Young’s 63 was the low round of the tournament so far. Starting on the back nine, he got an early jolt by holing out from the 13th fairway for an eagle 2.
“We had 136 (yards) and I said I was going to hit it about four steps long, 140, and a few steps left,” Young said. “So I missed it just short right and happened to fly directly in the hole.”
Young, who placed second at The Open Championship earlier this month, added seven birdies Friday without a bogey. Young, Pendrith and Hodges are all PGA Tour rookies.
Patrick Cantlay, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 4, shot a 65 to get into a tie for seventh at 9 under with Scott Stallings (65), Sahith Theegala (67), Australia’s Adam Scott (66), Germany’s Stephan Jaeger (68) and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim (68).
Those who fell short of the 3-under cut line included Gary Woodland (2 under), Harris English (2 under), Kevin Kisner (1 under) and Rickie Fowler (3 over).
–Field Level Media