By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Britain's Ross Fisher stormed home with a birdie-birdie finish to make the cut right on the number in the third round of the Humana Challenge on Saturday and was delighted to qualify for the final round on his PGA Tour 'debut'.
The 32-year-old Englishman, competing in his first PGA Tour event as a full member, rolled in an 18-footer at the par-three 17th and then two-putted at the par-five 18th to complete a five-under-par 67.
"It was a good, solid day," a beaming Fisher told Reuters after mixing seven birdies with two bogeys in dazzling sunshine on the Palmer Private course at PGA West to post a 10-under total of 206 in the pro-am celebrity event.
"I played good. I was three under through nine, made a sloppy bogey on 10 really but came straight back. I hit it to four feet on (the par-five) 11 but missed it for eagle so I was kind of kicking myself there.
"I gave myself a lot of chances coming in. I just couldn't quite get the ball to the hole."
Fisher, who booked his place on the 2013 PGA Tour by tying for second in the tour's qualifying school at La Quinta, had to end his round on a strong note after a careless bogey at the 14th put him three strokes outside the projected cutline.
"I really had to dig deep to make it," he said after going birdie-par-birdie-birdie over his last four holes. "To finish birdie-birdie to make it is obviously very pleasing.
"I'm just happy to make the cut in my first PGA Tour event as a member, on my PGA debut I suppose. A PGA Tour rookie at 32, as they call it. I don't know if I quite agree with that but it's nice to make the cut."
Fisher, who won his fourth European Tour title at the 3 Irish Open in 2010 to clinch a spot on that year's European Ryder Cup team, has relished putting on near-perfect greens this week.
"They are very good, although at La Quinta (Country Club) I really struggled," he said of the three tournament venues. "For me they were almost too quick.
"Having been out here (at La Quinta) for Q-school, the greens were perfect. They were a nice speed that you didn't really have to hit the ball and you didn't have to worry about the one coming back.
"But La Quinta (for the first round) was super-fast whereas the two courses here (at PGA West) are a little bit slower but the greens are still quite undulating so you've got to be careful."
Fisher, who plans to play in a minimum of 15 events on the 2013 PGA Tour, has set his sights on a rousing finish this week after recovering from an opening 74 with rounds of 65 and 66.
"Hopefully I'll go out tomorrow, shoot a good one and get some FedExCup points and springboard my way on to some bigger things," he smiled.
Scott Stallings leads the tournament by five strokes at 22-under par.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)