Hovland Shoots 64, Stretches Lead to 3 Over Scheffler in Hero World Challenge

Defending champion Viktor Hovland simply kept the pedal to the metal.

The 25-year-old Hovland shot 8-under-par 64 and will take a three-stroke lead over second-ranked Scottie Scheffler to the final round of the 23rd Hero World Challenge as the wind finally died down in the third round at Albany Resort in New Providence, The Bahamas.

“It was great, I just kept making birdies,” said Hovland, who is trying to join tournament host Tiger Woods as the only player to win the Hero in back-to-back years. “It was weird. Midway through the round I had made a lot and it didn’t really feel like I had made that many. I kind of just kept playing golf and kept making putts. I stood on the 18th hole at 9-under-par. That was pretty sweet.

“I kind of putted terribly the first two days, but I attribute that a lot to the wind. My strengths are really feeling the slope with the feet and when it starts blowing 30 mph, it’s hard to feel balanced enough to feel some of the nuances. Then as well, you have to play with the wind, so it was a lot easier today when it wasn’t as windy and I started everything on-line and just felt like I was going to make everything.”

Hovland, who has won six titles as a pro including three on the PGA Tour, collected six of his 10 birdies on the back nine before making his second bogey at No. 18 while recording a 54-hole score of 13-under 203.

Scheffler, who can regain the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings from Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland with a victory in the Hero, sank a 30-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole to go with five birdies and a single bogey in his 66.

“I hit a lot of good golf shots, gave myself plenty of good looks at birdie and made some of them,” said Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion who won four times last season. “I put myself in a good position to go out and play well again tomorrow and possibly win this tournament. It’s been a really good week so far.

“I don’t think much (about being No. 1) unless you guys ask me, but it’s something that I definitely strive for, especially having been there once. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished to get to No. 1, but I think it’s definitely harder to get back to the top than to do it for the first time.”

Eighth-ranked Justin Thomas holed out for an eagle on the seventh hole in a bogey-free 66 and is five shots behind in a tie for third with Cameron Young, the 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who had five birdies on the front nine, while sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State birdied the last hole for a 69 and is one more down in a tie for fifth with Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who made five birdies in another 69.

Fifth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain had five birdies and one bogey for a 68 and is nine down in seventh, followed by Sepp Straka of Austria, who rallied with three birdies in a bogey-free back nine to shoot 70, while Sam Burns made his lone bogey on the last hole in a 69 and is 11 strokes behind in a tie for ninth with Tony Finau, who had three birdies on a flawless back nine to shoot 70.

Tenth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, the reigning U.S. Open champion, is tied for 125th after struggling to a 76, while Kevin Kisner made a hole in one on the 12th hole but is tied for last in the 20-man field after shooting 77.

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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