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Jun 29, 2024 5:48 pm

Hiroyuki Fujita leads by two shots at U.S. Senior Open

Hiroyuki Fujita

Hiroyuki Fujita shot a 3-under 67 on Saturday and holds a two-shot lead after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open at Newport, R.I.

Fujita of Japan sits at 14-under 196, two shots ahead of Steve Stricker and three in front of Australian Richard Green. Stricker shot 66 on Saturday and Green had a 69.

Englishman Richard Bland shot 69 and is fourth at 9 under. Bob Estes is another shot back in fifth after a 66 during his third trip around Newport Country Club.

Fujita played steady golf on Saturday with three birdies during the day’s only bogey-free round.

“I played consistent,” Fujita said. “Out there the conditions were still good. I just tried to hit some greens. I missed a couple on the back, but overall played a good round.”

Despite rounds of 63-66-67, Fujita said he doesn’t have a comfort level with the course.

“I personally don’t feel that comfortable out here,” Fujita said. “I mean, that’s not a major factor. You usually can’t put that much spin on the ball, but here I feel like I can. It plays similar to a course I play in Japan.”

Fujita is looking for his first victory on American soil. However, he has won 18 times on the Japan Golf Tour.

Stricker carded his third straight 66. He had five birdies and one bogey.

Stricker said he is very impressed with Fujita’s golf game.

“(Fujita) didn’t really miss a shot all the way around,” said Stricker, the event’s runner-up each of the last two years. “He’s very consistent, hits it in the fairway, in play, gets it on the green. He’s very consistent, putted the ball really nicely.

“So we’re going to have to go out and have a good round to try to catch him. It looks like he’s in control of what’s going on with his game and emotion. Very impressed with how he plays, and we’re going to have to probably put up a good one tomorrow.”

Green had three birdies and two bogeys in the third round. The bogeys came on back-to-back holes (Nos. 5-6), and Green didn’t score his next birdie until the 14th hole.

“That was a bit unfortunate, really,” Green said of the bogeys. “A couple of average shots into the greens and didn’t really get the slopes to feed them down.

“Yeah, I think it’s just patience on this golf course. It’s difficult in the final group to press, so I just kept saying to myself patience, patience. Wait for the opportunity to come.”

Bland had five birdies and four bogeys during a highly inconsistent round.

“I’m going to have to shoot somewhere in the very low 60s, I think 63, 64, to have any chance tomorrow,” Bland said. “If I just cut out the mistakes, which I haven’t done over the first two days, then I’ve got a chance to do that, depending on what (the others) do.”

Estes birdied the first four holes. He finished with five birdies and one bogey.

Paul Stankowski (69) is in sixth place at 7-under 203 and Rocco Mediate (67) is seventh at 204.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer (70) is tied for 42th at 2-over 212.

–Field Level Media

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