Golf: Former champ Fowler seizes Wells Fargo lead

Rickie Fowler hits a tee shot at the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship at on May 7, 2016.
Rickie Fowler hits a tee shot at the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship at on May 7, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Rickie Fowler fired six birdies in a four-under 68 on Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fowler who captured his first PGA Tour title on the same Quail Hollow course in 2012, had a nine-under total of 207.

"The course dried out and played much faster, so 68 is a really good round out there," he said. "The only two bogeys I made, I just missed putts and didn't get up-and-down for par.

"I had a good warm-up, hit a good drive on the first hole and just went from there."

Fowler, who will defend his title next week in the Players Championship, took charge with three straight birdies through the 16th hole and his second straight 68.

Fellow American Roberto Castro bogeyed Quail Hollow's difficult 18th to cap a 71 that left him one adrift on 208.

England's Justin Rose made two late birdies in a 69 and was two shots behind in a tie for third with James Hahn, who made three straight birdies through No. 16, but made bogey on the penultimate hole in a 68.

A double-bogey at No. 18 saw overnight leader Andrew Loupe post a 74 that left him on 201, level with Scott Langley who carded a 71.

Tim Wilkinson of New Zealand and Lucas Glover both shot 70 and were three strokes behind in a tie for seventh, and Retief Goosen of South Africa was five shots back in solo ninth after a 71.

Five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson fared even worse at No. 18, carding a quadruple-bogey eight to complete a 76 for 215.

He was part of a big group sharing 19th that also included defending champion Rory McIlroy, who had five birdies but four bogeys and a double-bogey at the ninth en route to a 73.