HOROWITZ BRACES FOR SHOOT-OUT
5 Dec 2013
By Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette
Photo by Glenn Tucker
The battle for the Gosling’s Invitational title could come down to the wire with only two strokes separating overnight leader, Kent Fukushima, and past winner Joe Horowitz heading into today’s final round.
Canadian Fukushima, the only player yet to shoot over par this week, extended his overnight advantage by a single shot after unfurling yet another steady round of golf at Belmont Hills yesterday.
For the second straight day, the Canadian tour player fired a three-under-par 67 for a 54-hole total of 200, ten under par.
Playing as though his life depended on it, Fukushima carded three birdies, an eagle and two bogeys to protect his lead heading into the final stretch.
Fukushima’s signature shot arrived at the par-five 6th, where he made eagle to regain the lead after American Horowitz birdied the par-three 4th to move into a share of the lead.
His seven-iron approach landed a foot from the cup, leaving him with a short eagle putt, which he duly buried to gain momentum.
Fukushima birdied the first two holes on the back nine to stretch his lead to three, but he bogeyed 12 and 14 to find himself tied once again with Horowitz, who picked up birdies at 10 and 12 to go to nine under par for the tournament.
The round took yet another twist after Fukushima birdied No?15 to move back to ten under and Horowitz bogeyed the final hole to surrender another shot to the course.
“You never like to bogey that last hole, that kind of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” said Horowitz, a two-times champion.
Fukushima flirted with danger heading to the final hole. He hooked his drive off the tee way left of the fairway and had to rely on his short game to save par and afford himself a bit more breathing room atop the leaderboard.
“It was nice the short game held me in there at the end,” he said. “I hit a wishy, washy tee shot and went left and when I looked at the shot I thought even if I hit it perfect, I don’t know if I can get it on the green.
“It was such a steep lie, I thought if I don’t pull this off I can make a double, triple or quadruple [bogey]. I laid it up and hit a perfect wedge in there. It was a nice reward for making a good decision. I knew when I hit it, it was a good shot.”
Horowitz was satisfied to enter the clubhouse with a two-under 68. He carded four birdies and two bogeys to remain thick in the hunt for a third Gosling’s title and second in the past three years.
The American is bracing himself for what promises to be an exciting finale. “It is going to be hard not thinking about a matchplay situation,” he said. “But I have played enough of these tournaments to know that someone can come back from even par and shoot seven or eight under, and you can struggle to be there. You really have to focus so much on every single hole and not get too focused on what the guys around you are doing.”
Six shots off the lead in third was Jordan Mitchell, the former Bermuda Open winner and Bacardi Par 3 world champion, who managed an even-par 70 to move to four under for the tournament.
Fukushima, Horowitz and Mitchell will play in the final pairing for the second straight day during today’s final round of the $60,000 tournament.
Three shots adrift of Mitchell was Bermuda’s Dwayne Pearman, who led the local professional field after 54 holes. The former champion bounced back from a damaging 76 the day before with a 68 that left him in fourth at one under par for the tournament.
Pearman carded five birdies and two bogeys and was four under for the round through 14 before dropping single shots at the 15th and 17th to lose momentum.
Bermuda’s Mark Phillips, with 215 through three rounds after a 74 yesterday, leads the amateur field by five shots over Jevon Roberts. Defending amateur champion Joshua Cabrera is a further four shots back in third.
In the Senior division, Hav Trott has all but retained his title. Four times a winner of the main event, Trott has a commanding lead of 20 shots with 18 holes to play. He shot a 70 yesterday, with two birdies.