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He will have to wait until Sunday to try to win the biggest catch of his career.
The 29-year-old shot an Under-68 score on Saturday to tie the lead with three-time winner Bubba Watson. Hickok, who has never won on the PGA TOUR, opened a two-stroke lead before bogeying the final two holes.
“I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I am,” said Hickok, who went fly fishing on the nearby Farmington River after the first round. “I know those nerves are going to be there. It’s just embracing those nerves, not trying to fight them. “
Watson shot a 68 at TPC River Highlands, picking up three hits on Hickok over the last two holes. Jason Day was also tied for the lead before a bugy on No.18 dropped him in a three-to-minus-9 tie.
“When you play in the afternoon, you know the challenge ahead,” said Watson, who won the event in 2010, ’15 and ’18. “You don’t want to play it safe. At my stage of my career, if I have a chance to win, I’m going to go. This is the key. I’m not going to worry about third or fourth place. I’ll try to go if I can. “
Hickock had 12 strokes below – two strokes ahead of Day and three ahead of Watson – heading for the 17th before flying onto the green and missing a 10-foot putt. He was still one step ahead of the final duo before making three 8-foot putts for 18th to fall to a level.
“I’ve been in the running before,” said Hickok, who won the Korn Ferry Tour. “Obviously it’s a bigger stage. But it’s just about getting out and playing golf, and I play my best when I’m relaxed.
Watson birdied at No.17 to go 10 under, then missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No.18 that would have given him the lead. Day, the overnight leader, passed the 18th hole by 22 feet for a bogey to finish at 70.
Cameron Smith (66) and Russell Henley (68) were also 9 short, and three players were another shot back.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who birdieed the last two holes on Friday to make the cut on number, shot 65 to tie for ninth place at minus-7. The former world number one hit the clubhouse just two strokes behind Day’s 36-hole lead.
“Birdieing the last two yesterday to make the cup, which I absolutely wanted to be here for the weekend, and obviously going out today and shooting a good score, that was good,” he said. . “So I feel like the game is coming. “
Johnson shot 61 on Saturday last year to move from a tie for 20th to second, two strokes behind leader Brendan Todd. His victory was his first in 490 days; a win on Sunday would give him his first win of 2021.