DeChambeau Shoots 64, Leads Morikawa, Koepka, Finau by 1 in Hero

Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis is ahead of everyone on the fairway, and on the leaderboard.

The long-hitting DeChambeau shot 8-under-par 64 despite a stumble on the back nine and took a one-stroke lead over second-ranked Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka midway through the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in New Providence, The Bahamas.

This is the 22nd edition of the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods and it was not played last year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“I just felt like I was playing good golf,” said the seventh-ranked DeChambeau, who hit a bad drive at No. 16 and made a double-bogey 6. “I was controlling the golf ball out there, so I had a lot of fun playing in the wind and making sure I executed the right shots at the right time, missing in the right spots.

“I was going along really well and then hit one bad shot, but was able to put that behind me. Just keep playing golf. Nothing more. I was frustrated, obviously, but nothing I could do but keep going.

“I pulled the drive. It went into a bush. I had to move on.”

DeChambeau, who won the 2020 U.S. Open among his eight PGA Tour victories, made four birdies on the front nine and collected six more coming home to record a 36-hole score of  11-under 133.

Morikawa, who is from La Canada Flintridge and Cal, can claim the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings this week and was tied for the lead until hitting his tee shot at No. 18 into a bush and making his second bogey to cap a 66 that included a seven-foot eagle putt at No. 15.

“When I put myself in the fairway, I was making the birdies, but it was kind of an up-and-down day,” said Morikawa, who recently won the World Tour Championship-Dubai to become the first American to win the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai.

“I’m going to keep saying it, that I just have to focus on trying to win this week and if it happens, I know (the No. 1 ranking) is going to happen. It’s a huge bonus, but I’ve got to focus on the win. I’ve put myself in a good position after the first two days, but I’ve got to keep the focus up and make a few more birdies.”

Former world No. 1 Koepka, who is down to No. 16, made three birdies on each nine and a single bogey in a second straight 67, while No. 13 Finau birdied four of the last seven holes to finish at 66.

“I am very pleased with how I’m playing and I just need to keep doing the same thing,” said Koepka, who recently put new equipment in his golf bag. “To be honest with you, the equipment has made a difference, seeing the ball react the way I want it to, seeing the wedges, the driver. I’ve been so pleased with it and very happy. It’s going to be an easy transition, I think.”

No. 17 Daniel Berger, who shared the first-round lead at 66, birdied three of the last six holes for a 69 and is two shots behind in solo fifth, while No. 18 Sam Burns carded a bogey-free 65 and is one more down in a tie for fifth with No. 21 Tyrrell Hatton of England, who eagled the 15th hole in his 67.

Ninth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway and Patrick Reed, who also eagled No. 15, both would up at 69 and are four strokes back in a tie for seven with eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who managed only a 71 after sharing the first-round lead at 66.

Sixth-ranked Justin Thomas wound up at 72 and is in a tie for 11th that includes No. 12 Abraham Ancer of Mexico, who also shared the lead after one round but struggled to a 73, while fourth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State is 15th after a second 70.

No. 11 Jordan Spieth, the 2014 Hero World Challenge champion, is 18th after a 72, while 2019 winner Henrik Stenson stumbled to a 75 and is last in the 20-player field.

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