Tom Hoge set a new course record without realising it and Aaron Rai celebrated a hole-in-one at the 17th, but it is Scottie Scheffler who heads into the final round of The Players Championship with a two-shot lead.

An absorbing Saturday at Sawgrass saw Hoge card a 10-under 62, as both he and Rai put themselves into contention going into Sunday's closing 18 holes.

Scheffler's 65 took him to 14-under par and made him the only player with three sub-70 rounds, earning the world number two a two-shot lead over Australian Min Woo Lee. They had been tied at 13 under entering the closing moments of the day, but Lee had a bogey at the last and just minutes later Scheffler made birdie.

Lee had to settle for a six-under 66, which he had kick-started by holing a 112-yard shot from the fairway on the opening hole for an eagle two. Another Australian, Cam Davis, had a 67 to reach 10 under for outright third place.

Englishman Aaron Rai drew the biggest roars of the day with a hole-in-one at 17, becoming the second player to ace the famous island hole this week, after Hayden Buckley managed the feat on Thursday.

Birdies either side meant Rai finished the round in style and carded a seven-under 65 to reach nine-under overall for a tie of fourth spot with compatriot Tommy Fleetwood (65), American Chad Ramey (68) and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout (69).

Hoge, whose lone PGA Tour title came at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last year, finished the day one shot further back. Incredibly, he did not know what the previous scoring record was, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn it stood at 63, achieved multiple times on the flagship course.

"I didn't even know it was a course record until after we got done in the scoring there," Hoge said. Former Open winner Shane Lowry suggested to Hoge he had broken the record after a birdie at the 18th hole, but Hoge still waited for confirmation.

Hoge only scraped into the final 36 holes on the cut mark of two over, after producing a gutsy 68 on Friday following an opening 78. He rocketed into contention on Saturday and said it felt good to be able to cancel his flight home to Dallas Fort Worth, having booked it in the anticipation his tournament would be over.

South Korean Im Sung-jae jumped from level par to eight under with a 64, and Jordan Spieth followed his eagle on the final hole of his second round on Friday with a 66 to go to six under for the tournament.

It was a day for low scoring and those that missed out got left behind, including second-round leader Adam Svensson, with the Canadian shooting a 75 to plummet down the leaderboard to join Spieth in a tie for 14th. Jerry Kelly, the 56-year-old who became the oldest player to make the cut in this tournament's history, went from two over to one under with a round of 69.

Chad Ramey put together a memorable round on Thursday as he shot an eight-under 64 to lead The Players Championship after 18 holes.

Ramey, 30, has one PGA Tour victory to his name and is defying his recent form, having missed the cut in each of his past three starts, and he has not had a top-30 finish since October.

He finished his first trip around The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass with four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back nine – including on the famous 'island green' 17th hole – and was one of the few players to go bogey-free.

He is one stroke clear of two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, who was the only competitor to shoot a seven-under 65, also going bogey-free with five birdies and an eagle.

While Morikawa is the only player within two strokes of the lead, rookie Justin Suh has a chance to join him when he resumes on Friday with three holes to finish off. He is tied for third at five under, although his next shot will be a putt for eagle on the 16th.

Suh is joined by Taylor Pendrith and Ben Griffin at five under, while world number two Scottie Scheffler headlines the group tied for sixth at four under.

Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth are still in the mix after impressive three-under 69s as part of the afternoon group, who played in the trickier conditions, and coming off four consecutive top-10 finishes Jason Day is one further back at two under.

It was a day to forget for pre-tournament fancies Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, both at four over, while Hayden Buckley will never forget his shot of the day after acing at the famous 17th.

Kurt Kitayama made sure his 50th start on the PGA Tour would be one he never forgets after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one stroke on Sunday with a final score of nine under.

Kitayama, 30, is in his seventh season after making his debut in the 2016-17 campaign, and he finally earned his first PGA Tour victory to go with two wins on the European Tour and one Asian Tour triumph.

It was far from smooth sailing, with a catastrophic triple-bogey on the ninth hole ruining Kitayama's bright start to his final trip around Bay Hill, taking him from a two-stroke lead at 11 under, back to one behind the leaders.

But he kept his composure, rattling off seven pars in a row to begin his back nine, before what ended up being the tournament-winning birdie on the tricky par-three 17th.

Rory McIlroy and Harris English both had birdie putts on the 18th to reach nine under, but could not convert, meaning Kitayama just needed a par on the last to secure the win.

He left himself with a long two-putt for the title, and he almost made it in one, coming up an inch short to set up a tap-in par.

Illustrating how difficult the course played over the weekend, Kitayama was nine under through two rounds, and finished with back-to-back 72s as the field failed to chase him down.

McIlroy briefly tasted the outright lead after Kitayama's triple and Jordan Spieth's late collapse, but the Northern Irishman's seven birdies were balanced out by five bogeys, including two in a row on the 14th and 15th while he was out in front.

He finished tied for second at eight under with English, who was the only player in the field to finish with no bogeys on Saturday or Sunday.

Spieth found himself at 10 under through 13, but imploded with three bogeys over his next four to tie for fourth at seven under with Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler and Tyrell Hatton.

After a five-over outing on Saturday, Davis Riley bounced back with a 66 for the round of the day, catapulting him into an unlikely top-10 finish at six under.

Kurt Kitayama recovered from a double-bogey to remain the outright leader after three rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but a star-studded chasing pack is well within reach.

Kitayama led by two strokes coming into his third trip around Bay Hill, but he did well to salvage an even-par 72 to stay at nine under after four birdies on the back-nine.

His lead was trimmed to one, with world number two and defending champion Scottie Scheffler joined by Viktor Hovland in a tie for second at eight under.

Hovland was one of three competitors to shoot the round of the day, with a bogey-free 66, while Scheffler had a four-under day with seven birdies and three bogeys.

Alone in fourth at seven under is Tyrell Hatton, who matched Hovland's bogey-free 66 after rounds of 71 and 72, while world number three Rory McIlroy is joined by Harris English at six under in a tie for fifth.

Close friends Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth will likely be paired together for the final round after joining Pierceson Coody – the day's third 66 – in a tie for seventh at five under.

Max Homa and Cameron Young are still in the hunt at four under, while top-10 talents Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele headline the logjam at three under.

 

Jon Rahm lived up to his billing as the hottest talent in professional golf after starting his week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a seven-under 65 on Thursday.

Rahm, the world number one, boasts five wins from his past nine starts worldwide and has not finished an event outside the top 10 since finding himself in a tie for 15th in August's Tour Championship.

Coming off a victory in his most recent outing at the Genesis Invitational, Rahm is looking to secure another of the PGA Tour's new elevated events, with the increased prize pool drawing 44 of the world's top-50 players to the famous Bay Hill course.

He certainly made a promising start in Florida, heading into day two with a two-shot lead at the top of the leader board.

Rahm began his day with three consecutive birdies and finished with another two on 17 and 18 having carded an eagle on the par-five 16th.

His sole bogey came on hole eight, failing to recover a par after a wayward tee shot.

Another competitor coming off a win in his most recent start, last week's Honda Classic champion Chris Kirk is tied for second at five under with Cameron Young and Kurt Kitayama.

Not a single player finished their round bogey-free, but Kitayama and Max Homa (two under) made it through 17 holes before their first blemishes came on the 18th.

The group tied for fifth at four under includes some of the game's biggest stars, with world number two Scottie Scheffler joined by three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and resurgent fan favourite Rickie Fowler.

Max Homa and Keith Mitchell are tied for the lead after Thursday at the Genesis Invitational, but all eyes were on Tiger Woods as he finished his opening round with three consecutive birdies.

In his first non-major PGA Tour start since October 2020, Woods displayed impressive physical capabilities, often out-driving his playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.

The 15-time major champion birdied his first hole – to a raucous ovation – but he had three bogeys and one birdie over his next 11, reaching the 15th at one over.

He proceeded to electrify the audience with a birdie after a beautiful approach on the par-three 16th, before following it with a long-range birdie putt on the par-five 17th, and another picture-perfect approach on the last set him up for his third birdie in a row to finish at two under.

Playing partners McIlroy (four under) and Thomas (three under) both also birdied the 18th in a thrilling finale for the featured group.

Homa and Mitchell were the only players to shoot seven-under 64s during their first trip around Riviera Country Club, while the red-hot Jon Rahm is alone in third at six under.

Collin Morikawa is part of the three-man group at five under, McIlroy headlines the group at four under, and Thomas is joined by Patrick Cantlay and Rickie Fowler at three under.

There is a loaded group with Woods at two under, including Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele and Im Sung-jae.

Scottie Scheffler reclaimed the world number one ranking after successfully defending his Waste Management Phoenix Open title with a two-stroke victory on Sunday.

Scheffler – after posting rounds of 68, 64 and 68 – closed in style with a six-under 65 to finish at 19-under overall.

He went bogey-free in his final round with four birdies and an eagle, showing his affinity for the TPC Scottsdale course after winning his first PGA Tour event at this tournament last season.

Scheffler's lead was down to only one stroke heading into the famous 16th hole, and while he could only muster a par, that proved to be enough as second-placed Nick Taylor made bogey, and Scheffler extended the lead to three strokes for a comfortable finish with a birdie on 17.

Speaking to CBS after stepping off the final green, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he battled through some average shots.

"I'm just proud of how I fought today," he said. "I didn't have my best stuff, so I grinded it out today. I wasn't hitting it good off the tee, my irons didn't feel sharp, but I played a great round of golf today."

Taylor birdied the 18th to finish alone in second at 17 under for his best result since winning the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The red-hot Jon Rahm ended up in sole possession of third at 14 under, fellow major champion Justin Thomas finished fourth at 13 under, and former world number one Jason Day continued his return to relevance with a fifth-place result at 12 under.

The highlight of the day came from Rickie Fowler, punctuating his T10 finish with an ace on the par-three seventh hole.

Jon Rahm and Adam Hadwin provided the highlight of the third round at the Phoenix Open, where Scottie Scheffler kept hold of the lead.

World number one Scheffler carded a 68 on Saturday to maintain the two-stroke lead he held after the opening two days.

A bogey on the 13th threatened to set Scheffler back, but he recovered with a birdie on the next hole and then another on the 17th.

Yet the highlight came from Rahm and Hadwin on the Stadium Course's famous 16th hole.

With the vociferous crowd having been deprived of much excitement up until then, Hadwin – who endured a frustrating round, dropping three bogeys – planting his tee shot close to the pin, setting up a simple putt for birdie.

If that shot had the spectators on their feet, then Rahm's exceptional putt had them positively in delirium soon after, as the world number three sunk an excellent effort to on his way to a three-under 68.

Rahm moved up to T2 alongside Nick Taylor, who found timely birdies on the last two holes to head back into the clubhouse on 11 under after three rounds.

Jordan Spieth, who went round in 63 on day two, carded 69 but dropped a place to T4 along with Hadwin, with Im Sung-jae, Tyrrell Hatton, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day moving up to joint-sixth. Xander Schauffele had a disappointing round, though, and dropped three places.

It was a similar story for world number one Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed on the fourth, seventh and 17th, as well as double-bogeying the 14th. His round of 70 leaves him on three under for the week, 10 behind Scheffler.

Sam Burns was the big mover of the day as he leapt up 28 places thanks to a stunning 64, matching Scheffler's effort from Friday.

Burns struck five birdies and eagled the 13th, and is part of a five-strong group tied for 11th at eight under.

Scottie Scheffler won his first PGA Tour title 12 months ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he is looking to defend that crown as he heads into the weekend with a two stroke lead at 10 under.

A large chunk of the field still have between five and eight holes remaining before they complete their second round, with a delay on Thursday creating a backlog as players had to finish their first round early Friday morning.

Scheffler was part of the early group and followed his opening 68 with a seven-under 64, and he was the only player to shoot seven under on his second trip around TPC Scottsdale.

It is shaping up as a tantalising battle at the top of the leaderboard after Jon Rahm's 66 clawed his way into a tie for second at eight under, where he is joined by round-one leader Adam Hadwin, who still has eight holes to play.

Im Sung-jae will have his sights set on posting the best second-round score, with time being called while he was six under through 12 holes, and tied for fourth with Wyndham Clark at seven under overall.

The only other player with a second-round score of six under or better was Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas, rebounding strongly from an even-par opener, and he has four holes remaining to try and match Scheffler's heroics. 

Also in a tie for sixth with Vegas are former world number one Jason Day and current world number six Xander Schauffele, while the dangerous duo of Tom Kim and Jordan Spieth are one further back at five under.

Major champions Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy are still in the hunt at three under, Viktor Hovland is at two under, and Hideki Matsuyama is at one under with five holes to play.

Jon Rahm's phenomenal front nine earned him a share of the lead with Davis Thompson after the third round of The American Express in California on Saturday.

World number four Rahm shot 30 in his first nine holes on the Stadium Course at La Quinta Country Club, including four birdies and an eagle on the fifth to claim the lead by three strokes from Thompson, who had gone into the third day ahead by two.

Rahm launched an aggressive second shot on the par-five fifth, setting up his eagle putt from the edge of the green.

The Spaniard cooled off after another birdie on the 12th to finish the day with a seven-under-par 65, having carded back-to-back 64s on the opening two days.

Thompson shot a five-under-par 67 on the Stadium Course, making an up-and-down birdie on the 16th hole to re-claim a share of the lead.

Rahm and Thompson are joint top on 23-under overall, four strokes ahead of J.T. Poston and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

Bezuidenhout enjoyed a scintillating 10-under round on the Nicklaus Tournament Course to surge up the leaderboard, making six birdies on his back nine.

But the round of the day went to Dylan Wu, whose 11-under-par 61 matched Will Zalatoris' Nicklaus Tournament Course record. 

The American had a run of six straight birdies on his front nine and would have broken the course record if not for a par on the 18th.

Wu, at 17-under, is part of a six-player group that includes world number two Scottie Scheffler. 

Davis Thompson produced back-to-back eagles on his way to a two-stroke lead after opening with a 10-under 62 at the American Express in California on Thursday.

The unheralded 23-year-old American leads the way from a stacked field that includes 10 of the top 20 in the world.

Thompson set up his career-low round by shooting an eight-under-par 28 on his front nine, including eagles on both the fifth and sixth holes at the La Quinta Country Club, which is one of three courses being used as players also spread across the PGA West's Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course.

The American's performance tied the lowest front-nine score on the course, having made six of seven fairways and eight of nine greens.

Behind Thompson is a group of five players, including former world number one Jon Rahm who carded nine birdies and a bogey in his round of 64 on La Quinta. Rahm is tied with Sam Burns, Tyler Duncan, Matti Schmid and Taylor Montgomery at eight under.

Burns might have been outright second if not for a bogey on the 18th on the Stadium Course, having carded seven birdies on his front nine. The American made nine consecutive one-putts.

Nine players are a further stroke back at seven under after the first round, including Tokyo Olympics gold medalist and two-time major runner-up Xander Schauffele, who also shot an eagle on the fifth.

Among the pre-tournament favourites, Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay both shot four under on La Quinta, while Will Zalatoris managed three under on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Tony Finau and Tom Kim carded rounds of three under at La Quinta.

Two-time major winner Collin Morikawa continued his excellent run at the Tournament of Champions on Saturday with an eight-under-par 65 helping him pull six strokes clear.

The 25-year-old American carded rounds of 64 and 66 on his first two days to lead by two shots at the halfway mark, backing that form up on the third day with an eagle on the par-five fifth hole.

Morikawa and playing partner Scottie Scheffler had traded eagles on the fifth to set the standard early at the Kapalua Plantation Course on the island of Maui.

The 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open Championship winner finished his round with four birdies from the final five holes to open up a significant gap at the top of the leaderboard.

Morikawa remains bogey-free across 54 holes, with his six-stroke lead equalling the largest 54-hole lead of the season, alongside Russell Henley at the World Wide Technology Championship.

Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, Scottie Scheffler and J.J. Spaun are next best on 18 under. Fitzpatrick carded a seven-under-par 66 to surge up the leaderboard, while Scheffler and Spaun went four under on the third day.

Jon Rahm and Tom Kim are both a further stroke back at 17-under-par overall. Kim moved into joint second after an eagle on 15th but slipped back after following that up with a bogey.

Max Homa enjoyed the round of the day, carding a 10-under-par 63 although he was not helped by an unlucky bounce from a sprinkler head on a good approach on the 17th, leaving him to settle for par.

Collin Morikawa will head into the weekend leading the Sentry Tournament of Champions by two strokes, sitting at 16 under through 36 holes.

Morikawa has looked right at home on the Kapalua Plantation Course on the island of Maui, following his nine-under 64 with a seven-under 66 on Friday.

He began his second round in blistering form, birdieing four of his first five holes, before going on to finish with his second consecutive bogey-free day.

The two-time major champion has not won a PGA Tour event since The Open Championship in July 2021, while his last win in any event came at the DP World Tour Championship in November 2021.

He will be looking to fend off the challenge of world number two Scottie Scheffler, who is tied for second at 14 under after a pair of 66s.

Scheffler's nine birdies on Friday tied with Luke List for the day's most, and he is joined at 14 under by J.J. Spaun.

Jordan Spieth used a pair of eagles to pull to within striking distance, birdieing the 18th to jump into outright fourth place at 13 under.

Young phenom Tom Kim is alone in fifth at 12 under, while major champions Matt Fitzpatrick and Jon Rahm are tied for sixth at 11 under.

List and Tony Finau are in the group at 10 under, with Hideki Matsuyama headlining those at nine under, and the pair of Will Zalatoris and Adam Scott will still feel they are in with a chance – eight off the pace at eight under.

Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and J.J. Spaun share the lead after carding nine-under-par rounds of 64 on the first day of the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Thursday.

Two-time major winner Morikawa reeled off a career-best six straight birdies from the 10th to 15th holes, before ending his round with a birdie on the par-five 18th.

Fellow American Spaun was an early leader with five birdies on his front nine, enjoying a run of four consecutive birdies from the 12th to the 15th too.

Former world number one Jon Rahm, who was among the last to finish the day's play, bounced back from a bogey on the 14th hole, birdieing three of his final four holes to grab a share of the lead.

The trio are one stroke ahead of South Korean Tom Kim, who managed two eagles in his eight-under-par round of 65. Kim holed out spectacularly off one bounce on the sixth hole from 116 feet, while he repeated the feat on the 15th after a fine approach which was one of the best shots of the day.

Six players are next at seven under, including world number two Scottie Scheffler who finished his round with four birdies on the final five holes.

Scheffler is tied with Tom Hoge, Aaron Wise, Sungjae Im, Matt Fitzpatrick and Mackenzie Hughes.

Six players are a further shot back including Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland and Hideki Matsuyama.

Patrick Swayze famously said "nobody puts Baby in the corner" in 'Dirty Dancing', but Scottie Scheffler joked he planned to do so for Bubba Watson at this year's Masters Champions dinner.

It was confirmed last month that LIV Golf defectors will be allowed to play at Augusta National provided they meet the eligibility criteria, as the civil war between the Saudi-backed breakaway series and the PGA Tour continues.

Two-time champion Watson is among a group of past victors such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Charl Schwartzel, while Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau can all tee it up due to successes at other major tournaments.

Jon Rahm shrewdly observed this week that "the Masters Champions Dinner's going to be a little tense compared to how it’s been in the past" as players from the warring tours gather in the same room.

Scheffler, aiming to regain world number one status in Hawaii at the Tour of Champions this week, did his part to diffuse any simmering tension with a cheeky comment about Watson during a chance meeting on vacation.

"Yeah, I haven't seen many of the LIV guys. I saw Bubba on vacation this year, and I told him that I was just going to have a separate table for him in the corner by himself. Only kidding, obviously!" the defending Masters champion quipped.

"I just walked into this restaurant and him and Angie [Watson's wife] were sitting there and I was like, 'Hey, man, what's up.'"

Scheffler did reflect on the strange events occurring in golf.

His locker at Hualalai Golf Club this week is next to defending champion Smith, who is ineligible to play following his defection to LIV. 

Scheffler, though, remains confident the wounds will heal.

"In the world of golf, it's definitely a little sad what's happening. It's kind of weird this week. I get to my locker, and my locker's next to Cam Smith's locker, because he's a past champ here, and he's not here," he added.

"So, it's a little strange, but golf will move on. I think this stuff just takes time. Things will heal and we'll see what happens. 

"All that stuff is not really for me. I can only show up and just try and play good golf, and I'm not going to LIV anytime soon and so it's not of a concern for me at the moment."

Asked about the mood in the room at the Champions Dinner, Scheffler said: "With Augusta National being such a special place and with the history of the game and whatnot I think we can put all our stuff aside and just get together for a fun meal, all in a room together and just kind of celebrate the game of golf and Augusta National and just hang out."

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