Collin Morikawa (right) and caddie JJ Jakovac look on from the 15th tee during the third round of World Golf Championships at The Concession golf tournament at The Concession Golf Club. Photo: Mike Watters/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Collin Morikawa (right) and caddie JJ Jakovac look on from the 15th tee during the third round of World Golf Championships at The Concession golf tournament at The Concession Golf Club. Photo: Mike Watters/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Collin Morikawa claims top spot after third round at WGC

By Reuters Time of article published Feb 28, 2021

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Collin Morikawa went on a front-nine birdie spree Saturday to open a two-shot lead at 15-under par after three rounds of the World Golf Championships - Workday Championship at The Concession in Bradenton, Florida.

Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner, had six birdies over his first nine holes, including a career-best five consecutive starting at No. 5, and shot a 5-under-par 67 in the third round.

The second of those five consecutive birdies came at the par-3 sixth hole,moving Morikawa into sole possession of the lead at 12-under. It came as Australia's Cameron Smith fell from the top spot after a triple-bogey 7 at No.5, when he found the water twice.

"I think any time you have birdies like that you're just kind of in the zone," Morikawa said. "Golf was really simple, I was hitting great shots, got away with a great birdie putt that kind of hit the back of the cup, I think on 6,but other than that I was just hitting quality shots. I was hitting my numbers, hitting my spots and that's what feels great for literally the past couple weeks is that's what I've been seeing."

Billy Horschel and Brooks Koepka were tied for second place at 13-under. Horschel shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday thanks to a birdie at No. 16 and an eagle at the par-5 17th hole.

Koepka shot a 2-under 70 despite working his way through a sore neck and shoulder. He had a one-shot lead at the start of the third round.

"Yeah, go get some treatment here now and get worked on in the morning, and from there just hope for the best," said Koepka, who has been dealing with the discomfort since the Jan. 21-24 event at La Quinta, Calif. "Hopefully it loosens up. I have to go through a whole bottle of Aleve and Advil just trying to make it for two days. It's annoying because I spotted a few shots just to the field, but it is what it is."

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Horschel navigated a three-shot swing at No. 17, when he delivered his eagle,while Morikawa had a bogey 6. While Morikawa dropped to 15 under, Horschelmoved from 11 under to 13 under and into a tie for second place.

"I just said, 'Hey, if I can make two birdies coming in, maybe get to 12-,13-under par, I (will) be in a better position going into the weekend,'"Horschel said. "I was fortunate enough to do that. Collin gave one back thereon 17, which is unlike him, but yeah, we're in a better spot going into(Sunday)."

Over a 10-hole stretch from the par-5 third hole until the par-4 12th, Morikawa produced eight birdies, reaching 17-under par and pushing his lead to six shots for a brief moment until a three-putt bogey 6 at No. 13. He had three bogeys during the round, two of which came over his final six holes.

The 24-year-old was coming off a second round Friday when he matched acareer-best with nine birdies overall.

"There's so many positives to take from those first 12 (holes), but I have alot to learn from those last six," Morikawa said. "I'm not looking at it as anegative. Yeah, I didn't play great the last six, but a lot to learn fromheading into (Sunday). Just to kind of clear my head to get ready for the18-hole grind (in the final round)."

Webb Simpson was alone in fourth place at 12 under after shooting a 3-under69. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and defending champion Patrick Reed were tied for fifth place at 11-under.

Smith stumbled to a 5-over 77 after hitting a ball into the water four time sin the round and had a three-day total of 5 under, putting him in a tie for 20th place.

Simpson and England's Matthew Fitzpatrick were the leaders after Thursday's opening round, with Fitzpatrick shooting a 1-under 71 in the third round to put him in a four-way tie for seventh place at 10 under.

Max Homa, who won last week in the Los Angeles area at the Genesis Invitational, had a 5-under 67, his best round of the tournament, and is alone in 19th place at 6 under.

The tournament has been held at Club de Golf Chapultepec near Mexico City since 2017, but was moved to Florida this year because of Covid-19 concerns.

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