September 19, 2021

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2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic leaderboard: Joaquin Niemann, Troy Merritt co-lead after Round 3 in Detroit

Troy Merritt cracked the 219-yard 11th hole at the Detroit Golf Club and scored a 5-under 67 for part of the lead with Joaquin Niemann in the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Saturday.

Niemann, who shared the 36-hole lead with Tom Lewis, drew two putts from 46 feet to 17. He parried the last hole, the toughest on the course, for a 68.

Hank Lebioda (66) and Cam Davis (67) were one shot back, Brandon Hagy (68) was another shot behind. Lewis (71) was three strokes back among six players with a legitimate stroke on the relatively short course with receptive greens.

First-round leader Davis Thompson (72) was six shots back. After opening with a course record of 63, he has played the last 36 holes in 1 over with rounds of 73 and 72

Merritt, 35, made his first hole-in-one on the PGA Tour – with a 5-iron from a bounce – to give him a three-stroke lead. He had a bogey on the nearest hole to cut his pillow on a packed leaderboard, and in the end he lost the lead by closing with six straight pars.

Rick Gehman and Mark Immelman collapse and react to Round 3 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Saturday. Follow and listen to The First Cut Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Merritt won his second PGA Tour title at the 2018 Barbasol Championship. The next year, he missed the competition for two months due to surgery to remove a rib after developing a blood clot that ran from his chest to his left elbow .

He took three top 10 finishes this week this week – including two in May – to make him one of the best he’s had in a year since making his PGA Tour debut in 2010.

Merritt quickly moved to the top of the leaderboard after starting his lap under 9 on Saturday, a shot ahead.

He had four birdies through seven holes and complained that he didn’t have another as he missed a 14-foot putt on the ninth hole.

His ace on par 3 11 put him in 6 for the day. Merritt took off his hat and bowed his head when he saw the roaring crowd and perhaps had a hard time calming down. He missed the fairway to the right at 493 yards, par-4 12th. Then he was long on a chip and a 14-foot putt, gave him a bogey and cut off his lead in one stroke.

The 22-year-old Niemann used two birdies on his last five holes to win for the second time on tour. He was the first player from Chile to win the PGA Tour at The Greenbrier in 2019.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau missed the cut and left Detroit without speaking to reporters.

“I haven’t had my best this week, but that’s golf sometimes,” DeChambeau wrote.

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