Viktor Hovland is looking to win back-to-back Hero World Challenge titles and started his week on the right track, finishing Thursday's opening round in a four-way tie for the lead at three under.

The small field boasts 20 of the PGA Tour's top talents, with Tiger Woods hosting the event at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

Winner of the 2021 edition, Hovland posted an impressive eagle on the par-four 14th hole to go with his two birdies and one bogey to share the lead through 18 holes.

Norway's top golfer is joined by 20-year-old South Korean phenom Tom Kim, America's Collin Morikawa, and Austria's Sepp Straka, with the latter coming in as the late replacement for Woods following his withdrawal due to plantar fasciitis.

Kim, who already has two PGA Tour wins under his belt, was the only of the foursome to not make a single bogey.

They are one stroke clear of Sam Burns alone in fifth at two under, with Cameron Young, Max Homa and Tommy Fleetwood tied for sixth at one under.

World number two Scottie Scheffler is joined by two-time major champion Justin Thomas as part of the group at even par, while Jon Rahm is at one over, and Matt Fitzpatrick is at two over.

Corey Conners is alone in 19th at three over, and Jordan Spieth is dead last and the only player at four over.

Will Gordon shot four straight birdies on his way to holding a one-stroke lead from Russell Henley on the opening day at the PGA World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Thursday.

Gordon, who lost his PGA Tour card in his rookie season two years ago, shot a nine-under-par 62 including an eagle on the par-five fifth hole at El Camaleon Golf Club in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Henley is eight under, having also peeled off four consecutive birdies from the 10th to the 13th holes, while he finished his round with two more birdies to edge into second behind Gordon.

Scott Piercy, Francesco Molinari, Harris English and Sam Ryder are all one further stroke behind at seven under.

Viktor Hovland, who is chasing a third straight Mayakoba crown, is six under alongside Scottie Scheffler, who is hoping to re-claim the world number one ranking from Rory McIlroy.

The two-time Mayakoba champion started with two bogeys in his first eight holes, but rallied with four birdies before an eagle firmly put him in contention. Scheffler had less drama in his bogey-free round, with five birdies.

Another former Mayakoba winner, Matt Kuchar, put together four straight birdies from the fourth to the seventh holes, but is five under with two bogeys stalling his progress.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, struggled with four bogeys for an opening-day even-par 71 to be nine shots off the pace.

Tony Finau is three under, fighting back with four birdies on a bogey-free back nine after a triple bogey on the second hole.

The United States got off to a blistering start at the Presidents Cup to open lead 4-1 lead over the International Team on Thursday.

Setting the tone for the United States in the foursomes was the pairing of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele – who are the reigning champions at the only other team event on the PGA Tour calendar, winning at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this past season.

Matched up against Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, the Americans were a well-oiled machine, going 4up through the first seven holes, including a string of three consecutive birdies.

While they were the authors of their own early success, the International duo fell apart on the back nine, with three consecutive bogeys handing the United States three more holes, ending the contest at 6 and 5.

The rest of the matches were far more competitive, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas edging the duo of Corey Conners and Sung-jae Im 2 and 1.

Once again, the Americans got off to a flyer to be 3up through six holes, before the Internationals took two of the next three to tighten things up down the stretch.

The 15th hole decided the contest, after it appeared a poor drive and a mediocre chip that rolled to the fringe of the green would cost the United States, but some poor putting from the Internationals opened the door, with Thomas sinking a difficult one to swing the hole in their favour.

Tom Kim and Lee Kyoung-hoon were the only International team to draw first blood, going 1up on the second hole, but they would finish the front nine trailing by two as Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa responded swiftly.

Back-to-back hole wins on the 11th and 12th for the Internationals tied things up, but again the United States were quick to snatch back the ascendancy on the very next hole, closing things out with a birdie on the 17th for a 2 and 1 triumph.

Max Homa and Tony Finau had to wait until the very last hole to secure their win against Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira after the Internationals levelled the contest with five to play.

After four consecutive shared holes, Pendrith's approach on the last found the bunker, and they were not able to salvage a par as the Americans kept it clean with a comfortable two-putt for the 1up win.

The Internationals' only win came from the duo of South Korea's Kim Si-woo and Australia's Cam Davis against world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, emerging as 2up victors.

It was a great fightback after the United States led most of the round – 3up after seven holes, and 2up through 14 – as the Internationals won the final four holes to snatch a point.

Friday will see the teams go head-to-head in the four-ball format.

Scottie Scheffler ended the first day of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club with a five-stroke lead at 15 under thanks to the combination of a fine display and his FedEx Cup points advantage.

Scheffler, who enjoyed a meteoric rise this PGA Tour season to earn the ranking of world number one, began the tournament at 10 under par thanks to his position atop the FedEx Cup standings coming into Thursday's first round.

And he bolstered his hopes of claiming FedEx Cup success with a five-under 65 that ensured he heads into Friday with gaping five-stroke lead.

In second is Xander Schauffele at 10 under after his four-under round, while Matt Fitzpatrick is third after being one of two players to shoot the round of the day (64).

The other 64 came from Chile's Joaquin Neimann, who has pulled himself into contention in a tie for fourth, where he is joined at eight under by Patrick Cantlay.

Cantlay started the day at eight under and needed an eagle on the last hole just to post an even-par round after winning last week's BMW Championship.

A further shot back at seven under is Im Sung-jae, Cameron Smith and Rory McIlroy, all of whom started at four under and shot 67s.

It was by no means a consistent round from McIlroy, however. He was four over par for the round after the fourth hole and he tallied only four pars in what was an erratic showing.

Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Sepp Straka, Sam Burns and Cameron Young are the last players to sneak into the top-10, tied for ninth at six under, while Collin Morikawa headlines the small group at five under.

Corey Conners was Thursday's worst performer, finishing his day at three over after shooting 74 to sit in 29th, with the 30th entrant, Will Zalatoris, having withdrawn earlier in the week after suffering a back injury at the BMW Championship.

Keegan Bradley rode a hot putter to the outright lead after 18 holes of the BMW Championship, finishing Thursday's play with a seven-under 64.

Bradley entered the week ranked 44th in the FedEx Cup standings, outside the top-30 who will qualify for next week's Tour Championship, but put himself in a great position thanks in large part to his work on the greens.

He collected six birdies on the front nine, and according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats, Bradley was the top overall putter in the opening round, picking up 4.00 strokes with the flat stick, while also coming in seventh in the approach category (2.02 strokes gained).

It was a similar story for Adam Scott in outright second at six under, finishing third in putting (3.30 strokes gained) and 11th in approach shots (1.82 strokes gained).

In a tie for third at five under is the trio of Harold Varner III, Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas – but they all made it there in different ways.

Varner excelled in the tee-to-green category, putting a gap on the field as he gained 5.28 strokes, with Lowry in second-place at 3.32. While Varner was the third-best driver on the day, Lowry was actually a negative off the tee, but led the field in the approach category.

Meanwhile, Thomas was solid just about everywhere, finishing on the fringe of the top-10 in tee-to-green, around the green and putting categories – despite lipping out a four-footer for his only bogey on the 15th hole.

The logjam at four under includes Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Young, and there is a star-studded group one further back at three under featuring Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. McIlroy will be left ruing a calamitous showing at the par-three 15th hole, where he found the water to triple-bogey when he was one stroke off the lead.

U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick headlines the group at two under, Hideki Matsuyama and Will Zalatoris are at one under, and recent 20-year-old winner Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim is at even par.

Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm will be disappointed with their rounds at two over, and the previously red-hot Tony Finau is likely out of the hunt as only two players shot worse than his six-over 77.

Will Zalatoris held his nerve for a clutch par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, setting up a dramatic three-hole showdown where he defeated Sepp Straka to claim his first career PGA Tour win.

Straka came into Sunday's final round at 12 under – one stroke off leader J.J. Spaun – while Zalatoris was one shot further back at 11 under with Cameron Smith. When Spaun imploded, going on to shoot Sunday's worst round with a 78, and Smith was handed a two-stroke penalty prior to his round for an illegal drop earlier in the tournament, the field fell away and left just Straka and Zalatoris at the top.

Zalatoris continued to shed his reputation as a poor putter, and he did so in the biggest moments, draining a must-make 10-footer on the last hole to finish his tournament at 15 under, where he and Straka were three strokes clear of the pack – and the playoff was anything but boring.

On the first playoff hole – the 18th, which was playing as the toughest hole on the course – both players reached the green in regulation, and while neither were in true birdie range, Zalatoris had a significantly longer distance to cover. But he showed why he was ranked number one for lag putting this week and was able to tap-in from a foot to head to the second hole.

Replaying the 18th, Zalatoris' tee shot hit the cart path, seemingly handing Straka the tournament, but then Straka put his tee shot so close to the water's edge that he opted to take the penalty instead of trying to hack one out with a foot in the water.

Straka pulled off what would usually be a title-winning approach shot, taking an aggressive line and landing six feet from the hole, but due to the penalty stroke it allowed Zalatoris to chip back out into the fairway and bring his approach to just over 10 feet, where he would sink another incredibly gutsy putt to extend things to a third playoff hole.

After losing two playoffs this season, Zalatoris would have felt the trophy slipping out of his hands when his tee shot on the par-three 11th hole found the rock wall on the fringe of the water. He was not in the water, but the shot was unplayable, meaning a par would give Straka the win – and then Straka landed in the water.

The Austrian's next shot sailed over the green into the bunker, while Zalatoris' second try at his approach was perfect, giving himself another seven-footer for the win, and he made no mistakes.

With the win, Zalatoris avoided becoming the player with the most prize money in a season without a victory, raising his season earnings to over $9million in the process with his $2.7m winner's cheque.

American duo Lucas Glover and Brian Harman finished tied for third at 12 under, while Spain's Jon Rahm, England's Matt Fitzpatrick and Australia's Adam Scott were part of the seven-man group tied for fifth at 11 under.

After his two-stroke penalty, Cameron Smith finished at nine under with rising star Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim, with Viktor Hovland at eight under, and Wyndham Clark snuck into the next round of the playoffs as his seven under finish moved him up to exactly 70th in the FedEx Cup standings.

American J.J. Spaun is 18 holes away from a wire-to-wire victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship after finishing Saturday one stroke clear of the chasing field, shooting a two-under 68 to head in at 13 under.

After rounds of 62 and 67 had Spaun leading at the conclusion of each of the first two rounds, he opened his round on Saturday with nine consecutive pars, but after bogeying the 10th, he responded with birdies on 11, 16 and 17.

Austria's Sepp Straka was all set to finish tied with Spaun at 13 under before he bogeyed the 18th, leaving him in outright second-place at 12 under.

A pair of serious challengers are part of the three-man group tied for third at 11 under, with Trey Mullinax being joined by potential PGA Tour Player of the Year Cameron Smith and consistent major contender Will Zalatoris.

Zalatoris, specifically, has been in sparkling form after struggling to a one-over opening round, shooting Friday's round of the day with a 63, and only Im Sung-jae posted a better Saturday score than his 65.

In classic Zalatoris fashion, his work with the putter was not pretty – dropping 0.38 shots on the greens according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats – but he thrived from tee-to-green, finishing with the most strokes gained from approach shots (2.90) while coming in third in the off-the-tee category (1.78).

American duo Tyler Duncan and Troy Merritt are tied for sixth at 10 under, while Saturday's top performer Im rode his terrific round to join the logjam at nine under, which features the red-hot Tony Finau and U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Last week's winner Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim is a further shot back at eight under along with South Korean compatriot Lee Kyoung-hoon, America's Collin Morikawa and Chile's Joaquin Niemann, with Spain's Jon Rahm and Australia's Adam Scott part of the small group at seven under.

After shooting a 62 on Thursday to be the early joint-leader, Kim Si-woo's week has taken a turn for the worst as he followed it with a 73 on Friday and a 72 on his third trip around TPC Southwind.

Cameron Smith holds the 36-hole lead at the 150th Open Championship after a day on which Tiger Woods likely waved a fond farewell to St Andrews.

A stellar 64 from Smith handed the Australian a two-shot lead on 13 under at the halfway point, with Cameron Young his nearest rival, while the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler are firmly in the mix.

But 15-time major winner Woods, who has his name etched onto the Claret Jug three times, missed the cut following an untidy 75, conceding afterwards that he would probably not be returning when the home of golf next hosts the sport's oldest major.

Woods was met with rapturous applause as he made the walk down the 18th fairway, with McIlroy tipping his hat to the American as he headed down the first at the start of his round of 68, which left the 2014 winner three shots behind, level with Viktor Hovland.

After early rain on the Fife coast, the conditions were conducive to low scoring and Smith was one of a host of players to take advantage, with compatriot Adam Scott's 65 moving him to seven under and Tyrrell Hatton's 66 leaving him one better off.

Johnson got to nine under with a 67, one ahead of world number one Scheffler.

Other big names to join Woods in missing the cut were reigning champion Collin Morikawa, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Smith headed to the par-five 14th on the back of three consecutive pars and looking for something to ignite his back nine to match the fireworks of the front nine.

And my word did he find it. His approach shot found the green but was a long way from the hole, leaving him with surely a lag putt just to put it close enough for a birdie.

But that was never going to be enough for the on-form Smith, who rolled it all the way up to the hole and in the cup for a spectacular eagle. 

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Smith's 64 was Friday's lowest round on a day when his scorecard remained blemish-free.

The 28-year-old's putter stayed hot as he made six birdies and an eagle en route to a score that puts him in firm contention for a maiden major.

CHIPPING IN

Tiger Woods: "This is my favourite golf course. I fell in love with it back in 1995 and it hasn't changed. I just love how it can be played in so many different ways."

Mark Calcavecchia: "Forget about my golf. It wouldn't have mattered if I shot a pair of 75s or a pair of 85s, which I nearly did. It was about playing one more, my last one here at the home of golf, which is really cool to be able to end it here."

Cameron Smith: "I think there's going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- Cameron Smith's combined score of 131 is a record after 36 holes in an Open at St Andrews.

- All four past champions at St Andrews missed the cut: Zach Johnson (2015), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Tiger Woods (2000, 2005) and John Daly (1995).

- From his 22 appearances at The Open, this was only the fourth time Woods failed to make the cut.

Collin Morikawa knows it will be difficult to surpass the reception Rory McIlroy received at St Andrews after the world number two's fantastic start to the 150th Open Championship.

McIlroy will head into day two of the tournament just two shots behind leader Cameron Young after carding an excellent round of 66, in which he shot only one bogey.

The Northern Irishman won the Open in 2014, but missed out on the chance to defend his title at St Andrews a year later because of an ankle injury.

Yet he so far looks good to compete for winning his first major in eight years, and his fifth overall, with the 33-year-old receiving plenty of support from the crowd in Scotland.

When asked about the crowd reaction to McIlroy, Morikawa told reporters: "You hear your specks of Collin and specks of Xander, but it's hard to beat Rory."

McIlroy has been seen as something of a leader when it comes to speaking out against the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which has caused a divide across golf, with several elite players choosing to join the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway competition.

Morikawa has also stood by the PGA Tour, though he is pleased to have McIlroy leading the charge.

He said: "I think you know all the guys that have spoke about the PGA Tour. We've all kind of said what we believe. Look, we all support each other.

"That's the biggest thing is like we're all here to play in the PGA Tour and do what we do."

Morikawa and McIlroy played together on the Sunday of the Masters, when the latter shot eight under to make a late charge only to come up short to world number one Scottie Scheffler.

McIlroy has enjoyed top-10 finishes in each of the previous three majors this season, and Morikawa believes he is competing against a player close to the top of their game. 

Morikawa explained: "I mean, Augusta was near flawless. I'm trying to remember if he made even a bogey, I don't think he did.

"Today was a really solid round of golf. Didn't make any errors, hit it in the right spots.

"Overall, it was awesome. That's what I need the next three days if I want to get myself in the tournament."

Morikawa himself could only manage to shoot par for the day, meaning he has much work to do if he plans on retaining his title.

Disappointed with his performance, Morikawa remarked: "I just gave too many shots away on the greens, and it sucks. Sometimes you have those days.

"Today was just hit some good drives and hit a bad second shot, hit some good second shots, hit a bad putt. Never got any momentum going."

"This place is very special, for a lot of reasons. There's so much thinking to this golf course that it's great.

"I think that fits into what I like to do, but at the same time, you've got to execute. And if you don't execute, it's only a game plan."

All eyes in the golfing world will be trained on St Andrews this week as The Open returns for its 150th championship.

The final major of a year of fracture for the sport will bring the biggest names together once more, but who is best placed to take home the Claret Jug?

Five Stats Perform writers have their say ahead of the tournament...

LIV AND LET LIVE? OOSTHUIZEN IS A ST ANDREWS MASTER – Pete Hanson

Is it time to live and let live (or rather LIV and let live)? The proverb is defined as being able to "tolerate the opinions and behaviour of others so that they will similarly tolerate your own", but in the instance of the LIV defectors it is increasingly difficult to accept the decision for jumping ship as anything other than a nauseating money grab. That being said, looking at this through a purely sporting lens, LIV players who have qualified for The Open are allowed to play this weekend and Louis Oosthuizen knows a thing or two about St Andrews. The South African romped to a seven-shot win at the home of golf in 2010 and only lost in a three-man play-off to Zach Johnson at the same venue five years later. He was also leading through three rounds at Royal St George's a year ago before a final round one over coupled with a Collin Morikawa masterclass saw him end up tied for third.

RORY WINNING POPULARITY CONTESTS AND NOW SEEKS ST ANDREWS SUCCESS – Ben Spratt

If the LIV breakaway has made villains of a number of star names, Rory McIlroy is the PGA Tour's hero. With news of each defector, McIlroy has stood firm in his opposition to the Saudi-backed series – all the while stringing together a superb run of form, finishing in the top 20 in each of his past seven entries and the top 10 in each of the first three majors of the year. Rory is a very real contender this week, and there could hardly be a more popular winner. He has unfinished business at St Andrews, too, having tied for third in 2010 and then missed the 2015 event – where he would have been the defending champion – through injury.

RED-HOT SCHAUFFELE IS THE MAN TO BEAT – Russell Greaves

Fresh from his victory at the Scottish Open – where other putative Open contenders floundered – Xander Schauffele is certainly one to watch. Last week's victory at the Renaissance Club, which came despite a two-over-par opening round, came hot on the heels of his triumph at the Travelers Championship, sending the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist to St Andrews as a man in form. The American has also been in the mix at golf's oldest major before, finishing tied second at Carnoustie in 2018, where a final-round 74 ended his hopes of a maiden major. That search will continue this week for the 28-year-old, with the Claret Jug firmly in his sights. 

MORE MORIKAWA MAGIC INCOMING? – Patric Ridge

Morikawa enjoyed a sensational 2021, triumphing at Royal St George's to claim his second major title aged just 24 and becoming the first player to win on his Open debut since 2003. Yet 2022 has so far failed to yield the same success for the defending champion. He went into the weekend with the lead at last month's U.S. Open, only for a wobble on the Saturday to prove costly. After recovering with a fourth-round 65 to finish tied for fifth, Morikawa said he had learned to "just go play golf", although that approach did not serve him particularly well at the Scottish Open, where he failed to make the cut. If he manages to find the composure that deserted him during that dismal third round in Boston, however, then the world number eight cannot be overlooked as a serious contender once again.

CANTLAY CAN COME GOOD ON THE MAJOR STAGE – John Skilbeck

As the rumour mill links him with an LIV Golf switch, Patrick Cantlay is keeping his focus on the course. The American had a win alongside Schauffele in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April and has achieved four top-fives and two top-15 finishes in his past seven events, including a tie for fourth at the Scottish Open. The elephant in the room is that Cantlay has mostly flunked the majors this year, tying for 39th at The Masters, missing the cut at the US PGA Championship and trailing home in a share of 14th at the U.S. Open. However, the 30-year-old is not fourth in the world rankings for nothing; his time is surely coming. Florida-based Cantlay ranks in the top five for birdie (or better) percentage on the PGA Tour when finding the fairway off the tee this year but is outside the top 70 when driving into the rough, so accuracy from the tee will likely determine his fate.

World number one Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas all missed the cut at the Scottish Open as Matt Fitzpatrick and Xander Schauffele moved into contention behind leader Cameron Tringale.

Masters champion Scheffler followed up a three-over 73 with a 72 for the second round, putting him 12 strokes behind Tringale, who came back down to earth with a 72 following his stunning nine-under 61 in the opening round, failing to recover after a run of five bogeys in six holes.

Morikawa, who will defend his Open title at St Andrews next week, will also miss the weekend following a four-over 74 that took him to five over. He made the turn four over and a further bogey at the second, and a double at the fourth cancelled out three birdies on his back nine.

US PGA champion Thomas endured a nightmare day at The Renaissance Club, carding eight bogeys and a double for his 77, which dropped him to 10 over par.

World number eight Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris and Hideki Matsuyama also missed the cut, as did Ian Poulter, playing on the co-sanctioned DP World Tour and PGA Tour event despite his defection to LIV Golf. Poulter finished 10 over.

But U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick and Schauffele remain firmly in the hunt.

They are each four shots off the pace, though Fitzpatrick's 66 would have been even better if not for successive bogeys on his final two holes.

Schauffele went one better with a 65, his round starting at the 10th with an eagle and ending with a well-executed chip in for birdie at the par-three ninth.

Jordan Smith is also three under after his second round, the Englishman winning himself and his caddie a car with a hole-in-one on the 17th, only to follow it with a closing bogey and card a 69.

Tringale's American compatriots Gary Woodland and Doug Ghim are his closest challengers on four under.

Ghim is in position to secure a place at St Andrews as the highest-placed player not already sure of a place in the field. Kurt Kitayama (three under) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (two under) would also qualify as it stands.

Collin Morikawa has flatly dismissed talk that he could join the exodus from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The Open champion and former US PGA winner had been linked in some reports as a player that might switch allegiance, but the 25-year-old American said that simply is not true.

Morikawa, who finished tied for fifth place at the U.S. Open last week, issued his denial on Twitter.

He wrote: "Last week at my press conference, I said the media loves creating drama. Sure enough, I woke up this morning to everyone thinking I'm next. Not to say I told you so but…I told you so.

"To state for the record, once again, you all are absolutely wrong. I've said it since February at Riviera that I'm here to stay on the @PGATOUR and nothing has changed. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some cereal to pour in my milk."

The Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway competition, which started earlier in June in London, has already drawn major-winning big names including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.

Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed followed suit to play in LIV Golf tournaments, with all participants aware they would be indefinitely suspended from the PGA Tour.

The 'rebel' players were still allowed to play the U.S. Open, where four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said he was "tired of conversations", arguing LIV Golf debates were "throwing a black cloud" over the third major of 2022.

Now Koepka is said to have agreed a switch to LIV Golf, where players have been richly rewarded for agreeing to join the series, although he has yet to confirm the move.

Widespread reports have said Koepka will play the 54-hole tournament in Portland, Oregon, that runs from June 30 to July 2.

Collin Morikawa, the reigning champion of The Open, will head to St Andrews having learned from his experience at the U.S. Open.

Morikawa was among the favourites to clinch the season's third major at The Country Club this weekend, and was on course to challenge until carding a dismal 77 on Saturday.

He hit back with an impressive 65 on Sunday, though, putting him T5 at the time he went back into the clubhouse - only three off the lead.

While Morikawa required a huge slip up from all of the leaders to get him in contention for glory at Brookline, he was able to reflect on learning what he hopes will be a valuable lesson ahead of defending his Open title next month at St Andrews.

"I don't know if I found something. I think it just taught me that just go play golf," Morikawa told reporters.

"This year has been so much focused on trying to hit that cut and trying to be so perfect, and that's who I am, but just go out and play.

"Things are going to be tough. The ball is not going to go exactly where you want, but just figure it out.

"After this week it was a huge boost heading into the last little stretch of golf.

"I'm very excited. I think I'm going to have to really do a good job about prioritising every single day and splitting up what I need to focus on, whether it's the golf or whether I need to enjoy just being there at St. Andrews, being back as a defending champion.

"I think last year I was able to settle in a little quicker because I played the Scottish [Open] and you just kind of showed up. Time zones, everything, it was just go and play golf.

"This year I think there's going to be a couple more distractions just with being the defending champion and just knowing that it's such a golf-centred town, but that doesn't mean by Tuesday midday all I'll be focusing on is golf."

Morikawa went round in 69 on Thursday and built on that impressive start with a 66 in his second round in Massachusetts, yet it all fell apart on Saturday.

"I didn't see it coming. I think when you are playing well, you'll make doubles, right, and doubles aren't acceptable, just like three-putts," added Morikawa, who already has two major titles under his belt by the age of 25.

"Yesterday with two doubles, you just can't play with that. I know you can kind of rebound from that, and I think Scottie [Scheffler] kind of bounced back and still kept himself around there, but I just... the game and the approach shots and just off the tee, I was playing out of the rough yesterday, which is just impossible at a U.S. Open to play well and to hold and maintain pars.

"So I didn't think it was coming. I hope many seven-overs aren't coming in the future, but it just kind of made me refocus and kind of just get back into things, right, and just really start from the tee, get it in the fairway, and then worry about it from there."

Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick share the lead coming into the final round at the U.S. Open, finishing a tough Saturday on four-under par at Brookline.

Only nine players at this third major of the year have scores under par after 54 holes at the Country Club, and the tied lead between Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick only came after Jon Rahm's dreadful final hole in overcast and blustery conditions.

The world number two had the outright lead coming into his final hole on moving day, but three consecutive bunker shots and a two-putt led to a double-bogey on the par-four 18th and three-under after 54.

Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick have not won as professionals in the United States, with the former agonisingly finishing second at the 2021 Masters and this year's PGA Championship.

With Zalatoris finishing his round earlier in the day, Rahm finished as the conditions further cooled, placing particular difficulty on the approach to the green with club selection.

A visibly frustrated Rahm was able to compensate with some exceptional putting on the back nine, however, sinking a long birdie putt on the 14th to put him level with the two leaders. Three birdies between 14 and 17 were undone by the last hole, however.

Scottie Scheffler recovered from a double-bogey and three consecutive bogeys between 11 and 14 to finish Saturday on two-under, securing a birdie on the 17th before a massive par save on the last after hitting the bunker.

The usually stoic Scheffler did not hide his emotions with a triumphant fist-pump after the save, which left the world number one tied with Adam Hadwin and Keegan Bradley.

Joel Dahmen and Collin Morikawa fell down the leaderboard after opening Saturday with the lead on five-under. Morikawa's natural left-to-right game particularly suffered, shooting a seven-over 77.

Dahmen is joined on one-under by Sam Burns and Rory McIlroy, who only made seven greens in regulation but stayed in contention with a string of saves on the back nine.

 

Shot of the day

After two birdies and a bogey through his first seven holes, Scheffler really shone on the eighth.

His stunning eagle on the par-five hole saw him leap into a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard.

Player of the day - Will Zalatoris

In a day characterised by survival in blustery conditions at Brookline, Will Zalatoris was one of the few on Saturday who thrived.

His ball-striking shone on an overcast day, scoring only one bogey as the rest of the field struggled to find the green.

 

Chipping in

Zalatoris: "Yeah, that was brutal. When I made a mistake, I made sure I was on the fat side of the green or having room where I could maybe at least chip one up there from eight to 10 feet."

Scheffler: "There's a lot of trees on this golf course, and it's gusty as well. So it's definitely unpredictable. I think that's what happens when you get these foresty golf courses, and then with the gusts, I mean, that little golf ball is just getting thrown around all over the place." 

 

A little birdie told me...

- Victory on Sunday would see Fitzpatrick emulate Jack Nicklaus, winning the U.S. Open at the same course he won the U.S. Amateur, after beating Oliver Goss at the Country Club in 2013.

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.