Morikawa Cards 64, Grabs 5-Shot Lead Over Koepka in Hero World Challenge

Collin Morikawa will become the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings if he wins this week and he’s playing like he already is.

The 24-year-old Morikawa posted a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 to take a five-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka heading to the final round of 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 who spent time during the third round with the Golf Channel announcers in their TV booth, but the event was not held last year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“I’m just piggybacking off a couple weeks ago in Dubai,” said Morikawa, who captured the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai to become the first American winner of the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai. “I’ve been sticking to my game plan and just feel real good about the way I am playing right now.

“I chipped and putted real well today, but my driver wasn’t so good, although I figured something out with my drive on the 16th hole and hope I can carry that over until tomorrow. I’m in a great spot heading into the last round tomorrow.

“This doesn’t happen every week out here and you have to take advantage of it when it does.”

The second-ranked Morikawa, a two-time major champion from La Canada Flintridge and Cal, kick-started his round by chipping in for eagle on the third hole and added six birdies to record a 54-hole score of 18-under 198.

Former world No. 1 Koepka, who is down to No. 16, birdied three of the first four holes on his way to a 69 that included a double-bogey 6 at No. 8.

“I played OK, nothing to get excited about,” said Koepka, who was bogey-free over the last 10 holes. “I just had a few costly misses, a couple good putts that just didn’t go in. I was just kind of a little sloppy here and there, which kind of cost me.

“I’m five back, so I’ve got to do something. It’s always nice to be in the last group, but I have to play well. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, play good and hope for the best.”

Ninth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway eagled the 14th hole in a 67 and is six shots behind in a tie for third with Patrick Reed, who had a bogey-free 67, Sam Burns, who eagled No. 11 but finished his 68 with bogey-double bogey, No. 17  Daniel Berger, who had two eagles in a 69, and No. 13 Tony Finau, who totaled 70.

No. 19 Scottie Scheffler made three birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 66 and is seven down in solo eighth, followed one more shot back in ninth by seventh-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, the 36-hole leader who struggled to a 73, while No. 21 Tyrrell Hatton of England is nine strokes behind in 10th following a 71.

Fourth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State shot 70 and is in a tie for 13th that includes sixth-ranked Justin Thomas, who had a 71, No. 12 Abraham Ancer is tied for 16th after a 72, and eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland struggled to a 75 and is 18th.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the 2019 Hero World Challenge champion, is 19th after a 70, and No. 11 Jordan Spieth, the 2014 Hero winner, stumbled to a 75 and is last in the 20-player field.

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