Taylor Pendrith, Taylor Moore share 36-hole Rocket Mortgage Classic lead
DETROIT — Taylor Moore and Taylor Pendrith shared the Rocket Mortgage Classic lead at 13 under Friday, hoping to hold off a veteran trying to end a victory drought and a promising young pro aiming for his first PGA Tour victory.
Pendrith shot an 8-under 64 at Detroit Golf Club, one off the tournament record. Moore, who began the day tied with Monday qualifier Peter Kuest, had a 67 to match Pendrith at 13-under 131.
Rickie Fowler (65) and former top-ranked amateur Ludvig Aberg (67) were a shot back after two straight solid rounds.
The 34-year-old Fowler jumped into contention, chipping in for eagle from 27 feet on the par-5 17th. Fowler set himself up with a chance to for his first win since 2019 at the U.S. Open two weeks ago with an opening 62 before closing with a 75 to plummet into a fifth-place tie.
“We can’t try and press too hard,” he said. “Definitely know we can win. How I’ve played is some of the best, if not the best, I’ve felt about my game and on the course really ever.”
The 23-year-old Aberg, who starred at Texas Tech, finished the season No. 1 in the PGA Tour University ranking. The Swede became the first player to go straight from college to PGA Tour membership without going through Q-school or earning enough money or points from sponsor exemptions. He’s in his third event as a pro after tying for 25th in the Canadian Open and 24th last week in the Travelers Championship.
“I know what I’m capable of and I know that I can hit the golf shots, but you’ve got to be able to handle everything else,” Aberg said. “This is new setting for me.”
Collin Morikawa (67), Justin Lower (65), Aaron Rai (68), Adam Schenk (68) were 11 under, two strokes behind the leaders.
The 29-year-old Moore won the Valspar Championship in March when he outlasted Jordan Spieth for his first PGA Tour title. Moore missed the cut in his previous three tournaments after tying for 72nd at the PGA Championship, but said he hasn’t panicked as he would’ve in the past.
“Golf’s just such a finicky game,” he said. “I really haven’t felt like I’ve been that far off and haven’t made a cut in a couple weeks.”
On Friday, Moore opened with a bridie and had a temporary cushion with five birdies in a six-hole stretch midway through his round.
Pendrith, a big hitter from Canada, closed the gap with five birdies on his front nine and three more on his back in a bogey-free round. He tied for seventh this year in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his best career finish.
Kuest, ranked 789th in the world, had a bogey early and late in his round to finish with a 70 that put him three shots back.
Playing for the third time as a qualifier this season, his third tee shot went way left. Faced with a risk-reward decision due to low-hanging tree branches between him and the green, he played it safe and punched a shot to his right and onto the fairway. After an accurate approach set up a 4-foot putt, he lipped out for bogey.
Justin Thomas, defending champion Tony Finau and Hideki Matsuyama missed the cut. Finau won last year at a tournament-record 26 under.
Thomas, who won 2017 FedEx champion after winning his first of two PGA Championships, was still a crowd favorite in the Motor City.
“J.T., you’re a man of the people,” a man shouted as Thomas slapped hands with fans. “Can I have your putter?”
After ranking 118th on Friday and closing in the middle of the pack on the Detroit Golf Club greens, Thomas may have thought about giving up his putter.