LA QUINTA, Calif. â€" Dylan Wu is no stranger to going low as an alternate. Four years ago, the Northwestern alum earned a spot in the Korn Ferry Tourâ€™s Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS as an alternate, then proceeded to finish second. It changed his season and ultimately kick-started a run toward a PGA TOUR card. Now Wu has returned to alternate life; he finished No. 150 on last seasonâ€™s FedExCup, meaning conditional status and a lot of hours monitoring field lists to see where he stands. Things broke his way at The American Express. Wu gained a spot in the field Monday when Kyle Stanley withdrew. He has taken advantage. Wu carded 11-under 61 in Saturdayâ€™s third round, matching a tournament-low score at PGA Westâ€™s Nicklaus Tournament Course and moving into a tie for ninth at 17-under total. The event features a three-course rotation, also including PGA Westâ€™s Stadium Course and La Quinta CC. Sundayâ€™s final round will be contested at the Stadium Course. Wu knew that magic this week could go a long way, and he entered Saturdayâ€™s third round in a tie for 59th, squarely on the cut line. Propelled by a run of six consecutive birdies on the back nine Saturday, Wu moved within six strokes of co-leaders Jon Rahm and Davis Thompson into Sunday. Heâ€™ll have an outside chance at a title and, not unimportantly, a great chance at accruing a good chunk of FedExCup points to improve his status for the rest of the year. Wu knows Saturday could be a fork-in-the-road moment in his career, and its significance isnâ€™t lost. Sunday could be, as well. â€œI thought I wouldnâ€™t get into (the Sony Open in) Hawaii or The American Express,â€ Wu said after Saturdayâ€™s third round in the Coachella Valley. â€œAnd thereâ€™s no Monday qualifier. I ended up getting into Hawaii, missed the cut by one â€¦ so that was frustrating, for sure. â€œYou have to make the most of these opportunities and be OK with (the fact that) you might be first alternate come Thursday and somebody withdraws and you get in. So thatâ€™s the reality until you play better and get out of that category â€¦ Today, this week, it just shows that the work Iâ€™m putting in in the offseason is slowly helping.â€ After moving to 11-under through 16 holes Saturday, thoughts of 59 crept into Wuâ€™s mind. He two-putted for par at the par-3 eighth, meaning he would need eagle on the 461-yard, par-4 finisher to achieve golfâ€™s magic number. Adrenaline kicked in, and Wuâ€™s tee shot found water left of the fairway. He didnâ€™t think he could reach it. He quickly recovered with a wedge to 8 feet and then drained the curling par putt, punctuated by a fist pump. Itâ€™s his career low on the PGA TOUR, and plenty to build on. Wu was greeted off the final green by fellow TOUR pro Justin Lower, his teammate at last yearâ€™s Zurich Classic of New Orleans; the duo finished T10. â€œI told other people, one of my goals this year is to have a later tee time on Sunday,â€ Wu said. â€œGetting top-10, being in the mix, is something any golfer wants. Itâ€™s been a while since Iâ€™ve done that. I know Iâ€™m capable of it. Just need to keep on working hard â€¦ I know there are a lot of birdies to be made.â€ With 11 birdies on Saturday, he certainly proved that.
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