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Collin Morikawa’s week keeps getting better as he takes 5-shot lead into final round of Hero World Challenge

NASSAU, Bahamas – Earlier this week on a star-lit night on this island paradise, Collin Morikawa became an engaged man, putting a diamond on the finger of longtime girlfriend, Katherine Zhu.

On Sunday, he can become the No. 1 player in the world.

Not a bad week, indeed.

With Zhu walking every step of the way, Morikawa, despite struggling a bit with his driver, posted a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 in Saturday’s third round and will sleep on a 5-shot lead heading into the final round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club. His rounds of 68-66-64 have him at 18 under.

The history-making Morikawa – who is the only player in the game’s history to win different major championship debuts – became the first American to win the Race to Dubai two weeks ago when he made five birdies in his last seven holes to overhaul Rory McIlroy to win the DP World Tour Championship.

“Just piggybacking off a couple weeks ago in Dubai,” Morikawa said. “Look, I’m dissecting my game in a really good way of just figuring out what I need to do consistently to be a better player and to be in contention a lot more.

“Chipping, putting has put me in a spot so far through three rounds that I feel great and I’ve just got to keep doing that.”

His closest pursuer is Brooks Koepka, who shot 69 to move to 13 under.

Another stroke back are Viktor Hovland (67), Patrick Reed (67), Sam Burns (68), Daniel Berger (69) and Tony Finau (70).

Overnight leader Bryson DeChambeau shot 73 and is at 10 under.

“I played OK, nothing to get excited about,” Koepka said. “Just had a few costly misses, a couple good putts that just didn’t go in. 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.”

Morikawa, who won the 2020 PGA Championship in just his second start in a major and won the 2021 British Open in just his second start on a links course, came become the second-fastest to become No. 1 with a victory on Sunday.

Morikawa is playing in his 61st tournament as a professional. The fastest player to reach No. 1 is tournament host, Tiger Woods, who needed just 21 worldwide starts as a pro to become the world’s top-ranked player.

“I just have to go out and just play the way I have been and be ready by hole one and play all the way through,” Morikawa said of starting with a big lead. “Nothing’s going to be a gimme tomorrow.

“I think the game plan I have so far, it’s not like I’m playing crazy or I’m playing stupid, I’m playing to my strengths and that’s what I have to stick with. I’m going to keep doing what I do and if I don’t feel comfortable on a tee shot, maybe play back, but overall I feel really good about the game so far.”

Morikawa, who has played just twice with Koepka (opening two rounds of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines), has just one concern going into the final round.

“I called my coach this morning, Rick Sessinghaus, and I said yesterday that the driver wasn’t working. Figured out a little thing on the range and it still wasn’t working great,” he said. “But I found something on 16, just something that I can use for tomorrow, and everything else feels pretty good from there.”


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