A week after being whipped by Brooks Koepka in Las Vegas in their TV game, DeChambeau birdied five in a six-hole stretch around the turn at Albany and overcame a late double bogey from a wild workout for a 8 under 64. It was good for a one-shot lead heading into the Hero World Challenge weekend.
The one-shot group of course included Koepka, who landed a 12-by-12-foot putt on the last hole for a second 67 in a row.
They won’t be in the final group on Saturday, although DeChambeau seems to appreciate the chance. “That would be nice,” he told Golf Channel.
Koepka shrugged his shoulders and said, “I have already proven everything. “
Newly entered and not one to fight, Morikawa made a strong move through the last nine with a birdie-birdie-eagle streak until he fell victim to the tough 18th, playing in a stiff breeze. His bogey led to a 66, but he was where he needed to be.
“I just have to use that momentum for tomorrow,” he said.
A win against this group of 20 players is the only way Morikawa can reach world No.1, and it is only then for a week before Jon Rahm – not playing this week – returns to the top. on the basis of two years. rolling formula.
Not to be overlooked is Tony Finau, who seems to be in the mix most weeks. He landed one of his only two birdies on the 18th, putting up a 15-foot putt for a 66 to complete a back shot.
Daniel Berger also birdied on the 18th and was two strokes behind.
DeChambeau’s one big miss on the 16th led to a double bogey, and he responded with a tee shot 3 feet on the par-3 on the 17th to keep the lead. He was 11-under 133.
DeChambeau, who spoke on a 30-minute conference call last week as he tried to promote his televised match with Koepka, returned to his practice of only giving interviews to the network covering the tournament. .
His big run started off with a birdie at the sixth par-5, and the only hole he didn’t fly in the next hour was the 12th par-3. He nearly rolled onto the green on the accessible 14th par-4 and took a break as he rolled down the steep slope and entered a watering hole, slowing the ball’s momentum and leaving it with a single go -and-comes.
He ended up with the low score in the tournament, and Sam Burns wasn’t too far behind with a 65 that put him in the mix at 8 under 136, along with Tyrrell Hatton (67).
Rory McIlroy couldn’t follow. He was within range of the leaders until a double buggy on the 14th. He rebounded with a pair of birdies, to drop a shot on the 18th for a 71. McIlroy, who was aiming for his second win in his last three starts, was four-way with Viktor Hovland (69) and Patrick Reed (69).
Reed and McIlroy will perform together. Their most famous duo was the Ryder Cup singles match at Hazeltine that Reed won, and the most important duo came two years later in the Masters final round, which Reed also won.
Morikawa and DeChambeau present a stark contrast in their games and personalities. DeChambeau is all about volume, speed and power. Morikawa is more about a consistent shot, especially with his irons. In the age of power, the two-time major champion is used to seeing the long ball without worrying too much.
“There hasn’t been a single style of golf that has won every tournament here, has there? Morikawa said. “Look, Bryson is changing the game and he does what he thinks will help and I do what I think will help. I think at the end of the day who’s going to put the ball in the hole with the fewest hits? And we are all trying to figure this out.
Koepka is making progress in this department.
The four-time major champion was again sidelined by knee surgery just before the Masters, and shortly after winning the Phoenix Open. He missed back-to-back cups in the fall before his victory over DeChambeau in a 12-hole game (which lasted just nine holes). And although this is an unofficial event, Koepka is at least starting to see results.
“Over the past two months it has been constant,” he said. “But every day I find something. I am super excited.
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