KAPALUA, Hawaii — Collin Morikawa could make golf look easy. He has a shot in thoughts and the ball goes the place he is trying. The distinction on the Sentry Event of Champions is that features pictures on the inexperienced.
He was significantly efficient Saturday on the stretch of scoring holes on the again 9 of Kapalua, sometimes an opportunity for gamers to make up floor in a rush. Morikawa birdied 4 of the final 5 holes and pulled away.
He completed with a 15-foot birdie putt for an 8-under 65, giving him a 6-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical and a very good likelihood to eliminate the bitter style from final 12 months.
Requested if he was hungry to win once more — his final victory was the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November 2021 — Morikawa smiled.
“Yeah, that may be an understatement,” he stated.
The 2-time main champion employed placing coach Stephen Sweeney late final 12 months. It isn’t a significant change along with his stroke apart from a greater understanding of what he is doing. He leads the sector at Kapalua in placing, mixed along with his pure iron play. It may be a daunting mixture.
Morikawa has but to make a bogey over 54 holes on the Plantation Course, and he has hardly ever come shut. He made a 10-footer for par on the fourth gap to keep away from an extended three-putt, making that as pure as so a lot of his birdies.
“It has been fairly easy as we speak. Form of over the previous three days, the place I have been trying is type of the place the ball’s been going,” he stated. “I type of know what I am doing proper and after I hit a nasty shot, type of what the error was. That is the most important factor.”
Morikawa was at 24-under 195, 6 pictures away from U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Texas Open winner J.J. Spaun.
Morikawa is amongst 10 gamers at Kapalua who didn’t win final 12 months. Now it is an elevated occasion with a $15 million purse, and the PGA Tour selected to increase the sector to incorporate anybody reaching the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake.
Another spherical like this and Morikawa could be assured of a tee time for subsequent 12 months.
Scheffler, who together with Spaun began 2 pictures behind, tried to maintain up with Morikawa. The birdies dried up on the again 9, nevertheless, and Scheffler missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th that a minimum of might have put him within the last group. He needed to accept a 69.
Fitzpatrick had 5 birdies over his final seven holes in his spherical of 66 and will probably be within the last group for his first journey to Hawaii.
Spaun dropped 2 pictures on the again 9, one when his ball spun off the thirteenth inexperienced and rolled 50 yards down the golf green, the opposite when his second shot to the par-5 fifteenth sailed left and into the native grass. He had a 69.
Max Homa had no bother, making a career-high 10 birdies for a 63 and questioning precisely how he did it. That solely obtained him to inside 8 pictures of the lead.
“It did not really feel like I performed 4 pictures higher than my final two days mixed, however I did,” he stated. “It is simply not an excellent sport in your thoughts. But it surely was good to shoot 10 beneath.”
Jordan Spieth was 3 pictures behind to start out the third spherical and misplaced floor with three bogeys in his spherical of 71.
Everyone seems to be chasing Morikawa, and it appears to be like to be hopeless.
Morikawa started his scoring with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fifth gap, made a tricky 20-footer for birdie on the following and did all the things proper by doing so little fallacious.
The turning level got here early on the sixth gap after Morikawa and Scheffler every made eagle and the lead was nonetheless two. Morikawa made his 20-footer for birdie, whereas Scheffler went from a fluffy lie within the tough and got here up simply wanting the inexperienced, after which took three putts to get down. The lead was 4, and nobody obtained nearer than three pictures the remainder of the way in which.
Solely seven gamers in PGA Tour historical past have ever misplaced a 6-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical, most lately Scheffler on the 2022 TOUR Championship.
Requested the final time he had a giant lead, Morikawa smiled and talked about the Hero World Problem on the finish of 2021, when he led by 5 and shot 76 and tied for fifth.
“It is OK,” he stated. “I am over it.”
The forecast was for lighter wind within the last spherical, and Morikawa stated he anticipated gamers behind him to be firing at flags and making an attempt to catch him.
From what Spaun noticed of Morikawa within the second spherical, which may not be sufficient.
“He is placing actually good. He would not miss a shot,” Spaun stated. “It is a exhausting combo to beat.”
The Related Press contributed to this story.
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