Sports

Morikawa leads by five, set to win Hero World Challenge

V Krishnaswamy | | Updated on: Dec 05, 2021
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A win will take the HWC debutant, Morikawa, to the top of the World Rankings, albeit for a week before Jon Rahm once again returns to the top because of a two-year rolling formula.

This is turning out to be a sensational week for 24-year-old Collin Morikawa who is on the verge of winning his third title of the year at the Hero World Challenge. Carding a stunning bogey free 8-under 64 he broke away from the field for a massive five-shot lead at 18-under. It was also the first bogey free round of the week.

A win on Sunday will also take the HWC debutant Morikawa to the top of the World Rankings, albeit for a week before Jon Rahm once again returns to the top because of a two-year rolling formula.

Morikawa apart, Tiger Woods was the focus as the latter went to the back of the practice range to hit balls, suggesting he might soon see action.

With a performance that drew a lot of praise and applause from Tiger Woods, Morikawa will need to really to mess up things and someone will have to play a real low round to snatch the lovely Hero World Challenge Trophy from him. That looks highly improbable on current form.

The way his rivals fell away one by one was so like Tiger in heydays, once again leading to comparison between Morikawa and Woods.

Morikawa is making his debut in Tiger’s tournament and it will signal a triumphant 2021 during which he also won The Open and the DP World Tour to become the No. 1 golfer on the European Tour – a first for any American.

Starting the second place overnight, Morikawa grabbed the lead as overnight leader Bryson DeChambeau, who struggled through the day, bogeyed the first. Morikawa chipped in for eagle on the third and ran away from the field. He added birdies on the fourth and the ninth and then on the back nine he birdied four times to get to 64.

There were others ranging from Brooks Koepka (69) to Bryson DeChambeau (73), Tony Finau (70) and Daniel Berger (66), who came or were close to the top alongside Morikawa. But they all withered away later even as Morikawa stayed rock steady.

Morikawa’s power and precision combined with a calm demeanour may well have been Tiger-like and he showed that he had few weaknesses and could well be a big superstar over the next few years.

Koepka showed signs of being closer than five shots as he had three birdies in the first four holes but later did not convert many of the chances that came his way. He had a double bogey on the par-3 eighth hole and had only two birdies on the back nine. His 69 saw him placed sole second and he plays with Morikawa in the lead group in the final round.

DeChambeau started the third round with a one-shot lead but that evaporated quickly, Then he hit a spectator at the back of the green but it turned out to be a good break as it rebounded back and rolled off a slope onto the putting surface about 15 feet. But DeChambeau was unable to capitalise on it and three-putted for bogey.

He had three birdies and four bogeys for a 73, one of the only three over par scores – that included Rory McIlroy, who also had a quadruple bogey nine on Par-5 11th. McIlroy (75) dropped from first day shared lead to 18th among 20 players.

Sam Burns, ranked No. 2 in the FedExCup, charged up with an eagle on the par-5 11th followed by four straight birdies. On the stretch from 11th to 16th he was seven under for six holes and came as close as two shots of Morikawa. Then he, too, crumbled, as he bogeyed the par-3 17th and finished with a double bogey on 18th for a 68 that left him six behind.

Daniel Berger recovered from a lost ball and double bogey on the par-5 third as he made two eagles, including one on Par-4 seventh. Burns and Berger were joined in a tie for third with Viktor Hovland (67), Patrick Reed (67)and Tony Finau (70).

Published on December 05, 2021

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