Sean Crocker remains on course to become the fifth American winner on this season’s European Tour despite a late stumble in the third round of the $2.8 million Trophée Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco.
The 23-year-old West Palm Beach resident sits just two shots behind South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen after posting a 1-under 72 to reach 6 under. Spain’s Jorge Campillo holds solo second place on 7 under.
Crocker, who is in his rookie European Tour season after gaining his card through finishing inside the top 15 on last year’s European Challenge Tour, is hoping to join fellow Americans David Lipsky, Kurt Kitayama, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau as 2019 European Tour winners.
The University of Southern California grad began the third round in a tie for the lead on 5 under with Lipsky and managed to get to 7 under after birdies at the first two holes. He was still 7 under through 15 holes, but a double bogey at the 16th knocked him back. A birdie at the next helped his cause.
“It always can go better,” said Crocker, who lost to DeChambeau in the semi-finals of the 2015 U.S. Amateur. “I haven’t been in this stage too many times, other than college and amateur golf. It’s still new to me as a pro, so I thought I did all right.
“In Qatar last year, I had a chance to experience the final group, so I learned a lot of that from that. Just kind of take it one shot at a time and feel my game early in the stages, which it was clicking early, so I thought I was going to be able to take it low.”
Crocker has made two cuts from six events this season with a best place of T12 in the Kenya Open. He is 118th on the money list and needs to finish inside the top 110 to retain his playing rights for next season.
Van Rooyen and Campillo are hoping to win on the European Tour for the first time. Lipsky, winner of this season’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, did well to return a 1-over 74 after starting with four straight bogeys. He shares seventh place on 4 under.