Tale of two leaders at Quicken Loans National
June 30, 2018
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
Ancer, Molinari share 54-hole lead at Quicken Loans
BETHESDA, Md. – The first has five European Tour wins, including a World Golf Championship and a BMW PGA Championship.
The second is yet to connect for a win higher than his lone Web.com Tour win in 2015.
The first has been part of a World Cup winning team for Italy and two winning Ryder Cup teams.
The second would love a chance to represent his native Mexico … but hasn’t yet on a big stage.
The first has played in 35 majors.
The second has yet to tee it up in any.
The first is 17th in the world and has been as high as 14th.
The second is 203rd with a high of 183.
But Francesco Molinari and Abraham Ancer will both take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Quicken Loans National with a chance to make a big splash where neither have yet … on the PGA TOUR.
Disclaimer: Molinari won the 2010 World Golf Championship – HSBC Champions before it was counted as an official TOUR win. Instead it is credited as a European Tour win.
Molinari has never won on American soil. Neither has Ancer as his Web.com Tour win was in Canada.
They both are desperate for FedExCup points.
Molinari may be running third in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai but he’s flirting with missing the FedExCup Playoffs at 123rd on the points list. “It's where I want to be,” Molinari said of getting into the final pairing with a birdie birdie finish for a 5-under 65.
“The main thing today was to stay close to the leader, so I've done a very good job of that. Tomorrow I just need to go out and do my best, hit as good shots as many possible and see if that would be enough.”
Ancer sits 116th.
His 8-under 62 on Saturday was his best on TOUR by three shots.
“I’ll just draw back to the Web.com, I had a win there,” Ancer said of his Sunday strategy.
“The guys out there are more than capable of playing out here, so I'm going to draw back on that and just play my game.”
Of course there are a host of other players lining up behind them still hoping to take the trophy. There are 13 others, including Tiger Woods, within six of the lead.
WOODS ROARS EARLY … Tiger Woods sent shockwaves through the crowd with four straight birdies on the front nine moving him to within one shot of the lead. His gallery was already bursting at the seams but gathered even more weight as those in attendance felt a historic round was in the making. But the back nine at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was not kind to the 79-time TOUR winner. Read more about his round here.
BLAIR CHASING BETTER FINISH … Last year Zac Blair looked set to survive for a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs when he opened the Wyndham Championship with rounds of 69-68 to head to the weekend.
He wasn’t amongst the leaders but he knew he needed to bank some points to make his move into the Playoffs.
And then a third round 73 sent him into MDF territory and the final wash up saw him finish in the dreaded 126th spot. Good enough for conditional status on TOUR but one spot out of the Playoffs.
Things haven’t really improved this season with Blair notching up just one top 25 finish from 13 starts leaving him back in 189th on this year’s FedExCup standings.
But all it takes is one week to change your fortunes and with rounds of 67-66-66 Blair sits third and just two shots back.
Currently he projects to 135th on the points list, which at very least would lock up a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals.
But if he could win he’d project somewhere into the 60s and lock up a TOUR card for the next two seasons.
“You have to do a lot of things well out here,” Blair said.
“You've got to drive it well, you've got to hit your irons good, you obviously have to putt good just like any other week, so just kind of got to do everything good again.”
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTS ON OFFER … The top four players not otherwise exempt tomorrow will earn berths in the Open Championship at Carnoustie on July 19-22.
Co-leader Francesco Molinari already has a spot but his co leader Abraham Ancer, and the next seven players on the leaderboard, do not as yet.
Ancer, Zac Blair, Ryan Armour and Andrew Landry are currently in the Open slots but Kevin Streelman, Troy Merritt, C.T. Pan and Beau Hossler are not far behind.
In the case of a tie the player with the highest world ranking will get the spot.
RICKIE FOWLER – Needed a low round to become a factor but his 69 leaves him at 5 under in a tie for 22nd. Would need to go lights out Sunday and get help.
KYLE STANLEY – The defending champion shot 66 on Saturday to move to 6 under and a tie for 16th giving him an outside chance at going back-to-back.
MARC LEISHMAN – The high-ranking Australian could only muster a 69 on Saturday but remains a chance at 7 under in a tie for 10th.
BEAU HOSSLER – The young guns Saturday struggles continued with a 1-over 71 however a closing birdie gave him hope as he sits 8 under and just five back in a tie for seventh.
QUOTABLESI know my legs are strong from all the legwork we've done, so I don't have a problem with my strength and my endurance, it's just a matter of keeping focus out here in this heat.You definitely feel a little dizzy out there every now and then.If you know you have the chance of making a 20, 30‑footer, you're not so much under pressure to hit it close.Probably going to work out a little bit, do some stretching and just keep my mind free.
Low round: 8-under 62 – Abraham Ancer
Longest drive: 361 yards – Marc Leishman on the Par-4 15th hole.
Longest putt: 60 feet, 7 inches – Billy Horschel
Toughest hole: Par-4 8th hole at 4.203 with just six birdies, 17 bogeys and two doubles.
Easiest hole: Par-4 14th at 3.568. Yielded five eagles, 29 birdies and just seven bogeys.
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the final round of the 2018 Quicken Loans National, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Tiger Woods 26-foot birdie putt Shot of the Day