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Fowler grabs 1-shot lead

INZAI, Japan (AFP) — Rickie Fowler said he was confident of ending a three-year US PGA Tour title drought as he took a one-shot lead into the final day of the Zozo Championship in Japan on Saturday.

Fowler has not won a tournament since the 2019 Phoenix Open but he rattled off five birdies and a bogey to score a 66 at Narashino Country Club and move to 14 under, one shot ahead of fellow American Keegan Bradley.

Fowler, a three-time major runner-up and former No. 4, said his self-belief had not wavered despite his poor form, which included missing the cut at last week’s Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.

“I’ve definitely had some tough times the last few years,” said the 33-year-old, who has won five US PGA Tour titles.

“It was always just a fine line, a shot or two here or there, and it’s nice to start building momentum and confidence and getting the ball rolling in the right direction.”

Fowler looked to be in danger of losing his lead when he drove his tee shot into the bunker on the 18th.

But he played his way out of trouble and birdied the hole, saying he was “looking forward to the challenge” of going for the title in Sunday’s final round.

“I believe I can do it but I know it’s going to be tough,” he said. “I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing the last few days.”

Bradley hit five birdies and a bogey to sit one shot behind Fowler, with Andrew Putnam one further back on 12 under and Norway’s Viktor Hovland on 11 under.

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