Fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway and Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and the University of California simply have picked up where they left off.
Hovland (pictured) and Morikawa both posted scores of six-under-par 64 and hold a two-stroke lead over top-ranked Scottie Scheffler midway through the 38th annual Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Players in the exclusive 30-man field received strokes for their standing in the FedEx Cup standings at the start, with points leader Scheffler receiving the most with 10.
“I’ve just been playing so well since last week and really for most of this season,” said Hovland, who closed with a 61 last week to claim his fifth PGA Tour victory in the BMW Championship, the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. “All parts of my game seem to be there, as I’ve been driving the ball well, which gives me a chance to hit some good shots into the greens for birdie putts, and my short game is better than it’s ever been.
“I played well all the way around, and this course really gives some good chances if you can keep the ball in the fairway or not too far off. I made only a couple birdie putts on the front nine, but they started to go in on the back nine and I just went with it. Now, I just have to keep going with what I have been doing on the weekend and I’ll have a chance to win again.”
Hovland, who also beat Denny McCarthy in a playoff to win the Memorial Tournament in June, had two birdies and his lone bogey on the front nine, before making four straight birdies on the back and adding one more to record a score of 16-under-par.
Morikawa, who shot 61 in the first round after receiving only one stroke for his place in the FedEx Cup standings, had three birdies on each nine in his 64.
“I played well again today, but obviously when you look at the scores, not as well as I did yesterday,” said Morikawa, who hasn’t won since claiming his second major championship in the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent, England. “Today, I was missing my spots by just a little bit after being right on with everything yesterday, and that was the difference.
“But I still played pretty well, and my short game was pretty good, although I obviously didn’t make as many putts as yesterday, when it seemed like everything was going in the hole. I just want to keep doing on the weekend what I’ve been doing the first two days.
“It hasn’t been a very good year for me, but I have a chance to make a strong finish.”
Scheffler, who has won six times since last year including the 2022 Masters but blew a five-stroke lead to Hovland on the back nine last Sunday in the BMW, carded a bogey-free 65 and is two back in solo third, and Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, is one more down in fourth, while third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the reigning Masters champion, had seven birdies in a 65 and is four strokes behind in a tie for fifth with fourth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist, who had a bogey-free 64.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who claimed a record third FedEx Cup last year, birdied the last hole to cap a 67 and is six behind in solo seventh, while eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, there 2022 U.S. Open champion, totaled 68 with final hole birdie and is seven shots back in a tie for eighth with reigning U.S. Open champ Wyndham Clark, who had three early birdies in a 67, and Tyrrell Hatton of England, who also had three birdies on the front nine in a 67.
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, the 2021 FedEx Cup champion, made three birdies down the stretch in a 68 and is in a tie for 13th that includes seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, who birdied the last two holes for a 67.
For complete results and third-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard