Hovland dominates on day three to pull three strokes clear at Hero World Challenge

By Sports Desk December 03, 2022

Reigning champion Viktor Hovland carded a round-of-the-day eight-under-par 64 to pull three shots clear at the Hero World Challenge on Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas on Saturday.

The Norwegian, who was the joint leader after day one and outright leader by one shot at halfway, shot 10 birdies in his stunning third round to open up a three-shot gap on Scottie Scheffler.

Hovland could have been further ahead if not for a bogey on the par-four 18th hole, having managed six birdies in the previous seven holes to card 31 on his back nine. He also bogeyed on the sixth hole.

The reigning champion, who managed eagles in both of his first two days, fired in a dart over the water off the tee on the par-three 17th hole to set up a routine birdie putt.

Hovland leads from world number two Scheffler, who hit 66 on day three, to move up to 10-under overall.

Scheffler buried an eagle putt on the par-five 15th hole to move into solo second, having five birdies for his round, along with a bogey.

Justin Thomas is a further two shots behind Scheffler at eight-under overall, alongside Cameron Young who had been in the four-player pack one stroke behind Hovland at halfway.

Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele are tied at seven under, rounding out those in contention with a big gap to the next best, Jon Rahm who is four-under overall.

Kevin Kisner landed a hole-in-one on the par-three 12th hole to produce the first ace on that hole since the event moved to Albany in 2015.

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    The Spaniard, who started the day at four-under overall, carded an impressive six-under-par 66 on Friday to fly up the leaderboard to 10 under and be within two strokes of Ryder (12 under).

    Ryder had held a three-stroke advantage at the halfway point and maintained his lead despite an even round that included one birdie, where he made a great save after hitting the cart path, and one bogey as the event switched to the South Course for the final two days.

    World number three Rahm seemed to relish the conditions in an ominous sign ahead of the final round, with the second-best round of the day underlining his surge, that included a run of three straight birdies before an eagle on the ninth.

    Rahm moved into outright second with the eagle, with an excellent approach on to the green followed by an 11-foot putt. The 28-year-old claimed his first PGA Tour victory in 2017 at Torrey Pines.

    Tony Finau enjoyed the best round of the day, carding an eight-under-par 64 to move into outright third at eight-under overall.

    Finau, who was the only player to go bogey-free, had six birdies plus an eagle on the par-four first hole when he holed out from 138 yards on his approach.

    A group of four players are tied for fourth at seven-under overall, in Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Sahith Theegala.

  • McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish

    Rory McIlroy put himself firmly in the mix at the Dubai Desert Classic after a flourish that disguised the "rusty" golf he feared would put him way down the leaderboard.

    The lucrative DP World Tour event was again hit by wet weather on Friday, after a six-hour delay on Thursday, and with McIlroy among many in the field yet to begin the second round, organisers decided it would be extended to finish on Monday rather than Sunday.

    McIlroy got his work for the day done in the morning at Emirates Golf Club, polishing off an opening round he left in a promising place overnight, having reached two under through 15 holes and given himself a short-range putt at the next that he elected to leave for Friday.

    The world number one made that putt, then holed out from 107 yards for eagle at the eighth hole, his 17th, and finished with another birdie to complete a six-under 66 for what was a share of the lead at the time.

    McIlroy summed up his performance on Thursday as "honestly not very good", so he was thankful to shoot such a low score.

    "I struggled out there most of yesterday," McIlroy said. "I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    American Patrick Reed, involved in a pre-tournament spat with McIlroy and alleged to have thrown a tee at his rival, joined the Northern Irishman on six under through the opening 18 holes thanks to a 15-foot eagle putt at the last.

    Reed, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week, said: "I'm obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn't really a reflection of all the hard work I've been doing in the off-season.

    "To come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus. I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple of putts."

    Reed and McIlroy will play their second rounds on Saturday, but others began their second circuits before darkness brought an end to Friday's play.

    The first-round joint lead was snatched away from Reed and McIlroy by Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg and Englishman Ian Poulter, who both carded seven-under 65s.

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    The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by a spat between world number one McIlroy and LIV Golf defector Reed.

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    A strong start from both players on a rain-delayed day one raised the possibility of an intriguing pairing over the weekend.

    And the chances of that happening were increased with McIlroy – who started on the back nine – closing birdie, eagle, birdie to finish his first round at six under par.

    Reed matched that score thanks to a 15-foot eagle at the last.

    Asked for his thoughts about how he played in round one, McIlroy said: "Honestly, not very good. I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought I did well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know, but it was definitely needed.

    "I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    The highlight for McIlroy was holing out from 114 yards out of the sand at the eighth (his 17th).

    "You know, I wouldn't say I'm the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it's a little more packed down, so you get some better lies," he said.

    "All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it – went down the grip a little bit just to make sure of the strike – I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin.

    "Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus."

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