Akshay Bhatia and Aaron Rai share lead for 2nd straight day at Rocket Mortgage Classic

DETROIT (AP) — Akshay Bhatia and Aaron Rai ended the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in the same position they started it — tied atop the leaderboard.

Bhatia and Rai each shot 4-under 68 on Saturday to reach 17 under, sharing the lead again on a crowded leaderboard.

“So many people in this golf tournament, it’s not just us two,” Bhatia said. “We didn’t separate ourselves.”

Cam Davis (66) and Cameron Young (67) were a shot back at soggy and windy Detroit Golf Club. Sam Stevens (66) and Erik van Rooyen (68) were another stroke back.

Amateur Luke Clanton (65), Min Woo Lee (66) and Joel Dahmen (68) were three shots behind the leaders, entering the final round Sunday.

The third round started a couple hours late and threesomes went off both the front and back nine because more than an inch of rain soaked the course, leaving standing water in the fairways and large puddles in the rough.

The conditions allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways. Players, though, did not get relief from the wind that gusted up to 25 mph.

“The biggest factor was the wind," Lee said. "We’ve been playing in pretty calm conditions the last two days and today was like a hurricane.”

While Bhatia and Rai slowed down as the sun started to set and shadows blanketed the course, Young surged into a three-way tie at the par-5 17th with his third birdie in four holes.

Young shot a 59 last Saturday at the Travelers Championship, the first player to pull off that feat since Scottie Scheffler did it during the 2020 FedExCup Playoffs.

Davis, who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2021 at 18 under, made it a four-way tie atop the leaderboard with a slow-rolling 8-footer to close with his fourth birdie in five holes.

Bhatia and Rai both birdied 17, turning a four-way tie into two at 17 under and both parred the final hole.

Bhatia picked up his second PGA Tour victory at the Texas Open in April and is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Travelers Championship, where he was in the final group that was disrupted by climate protesters storming the 18th green.

“Last week, I was right there for a long time and obviously didn’t get it done,” he said. “But I'm excited for this.”

Rai and and Young, who has been a runner-up seven times, are each seeking their first PGA Tour victory.

Clanton, a junior at Florida State, got into contention with four birdies on the front nine and a fifth at No. 11 to pull within two shots of the leaders. After giving a stroke back with a bogey at No. 12, he had an eagle on the par-5 14th with an approach from 227 feet that left him with a 3-foot putt he made for birdie at No. 17.

If Clanton can close strong enough to win, it would mark the first time since 1945 that multiple amateurs won a PGA Tour event in the same season.

Nick Dunlap won The American Express, against a field that included Scheffler, to become the first amateur since Phil Mickelson 33 years earlier to win on the PGA Tour. Dunlap, who turned professional shortly after the win in January, was four shots back in Detroit after shooting 67 in the third round.

“Amateurs now, we’re so good,” he said.

Clanton insisted he’s not in a rush to cash in as a pro on the PGA Tour, saying he plans to stay in school for two more years.

“Being able to play golf with your buddies every single day, it’s something you don’t get very much,” he said before eating a college-caliber dinner at Chipotle. “I’ve got 12 dudes on that team that I absolutely love, so it’s awesome."

Will Zalatoris, who entered the tournament ranked No. 44, withdrew because of a back injury after playing eight holes in 3 over Saturday.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf