Day 3: Hovland Storms To 6 Shot Lead At East Lake – Can Anyone Catch Him?

Saturday is always described as a “moving day” at any golf tournament.

And by the end of a weather-delayed third round at the Tour Championship, Victor Hovland was the man who had moved into a commanding six-shot lead going into the final round at East Lake.

In a day when scoring wasn’t as low as the first two, Hovland’s 66 was good enough to put him in a strong position to not only record back-to-back wins but also walk away the $18 million jackpot for winning the Fed Ex Cup.

Hovland shot a very measured two under par on the front nine, but it’s how he held his nerve on the back nine that has helped to put him in such a strong position ahead of the final round, Sunday.

After a 75-minute delay, Hovland made a quick start recording back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13.

His only blemish came at the 14th before a superb 6-iron to 13 feet on the par 3 15th set up another birdie.

Day 3: Hovland Storms To 6 Shot Lead At East Lake - Can Anyone Catch Him? 1

A steady run of pars to the house sees Hovland with potentially an unassailable lead.

But we only have to look at last year’s final round when Scottie Scheffler took a six-shot lead into the final round before being overhauled by Rory McIlroy, so is there any hope for the chasing pack this year?

Leaderboard at the end of day 3 at the Tour Championship:

1NORViktor Hovland-20F-4686466198
2+3USAXander Schauffele-14F-2676468199
T3+1USAKeegan Bradley-13FE636770200
T3-2USACollin Morikawa-13F+3616473198
T5+3USAWyndham Clark-11F-2686768203
T5ESPJon Rahm-11F+1696571205
T5-2USAScottie Scheffler-11F+3716573209
T8+5USAPatrick Cantlay-9F-2696868205
T8+3USAAdam Schenk-9F-1637069202
T8-1NIRRory McIlroy-9F+1706771208
T11+10AUTSepp Straka-8F-5667165202
T11+2USAMax Homa-8F-1706769206
T11-3ENGMatt Fitzpatrick-8F+1676871206

On scores alone, Xander Schauffele is the player with any real hope.

Schauffele carded a two-under-par 68, mixing five birdies with three bogeys. Still, even after racing to 3 under par through his first seven holes, he was never in a position to really put Hovland under any pressure before the weather delay.

A back nine of level par means that if Schauffele is to threaten Hovland’s lead on Sunday, he is going to have to come out the blocks quickly and hope Hovland has an early wobble.

Sitting at thirteen under par and seven shots back are Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa.

Bradley will be the happier of the two, shooting a level par 70, but Morikawa took himself out of contention with a three-over-par round of 73.

Morikawa’s blistering pace of the first two days could not continue and, after four opening pars, made an ugly double-bogey at the par-four 5th.

Two further bogeys at holes 10 and 11 made the day worse for Morikawa before a solitary birdie at the 16th offered some consolation.

Another player to shoot 73 on Saturday and effectively end his chances of winning the Fed Ex Cup was Scottie Scheffler.

The world number one had put himself in a handy position going into the third round, but Scheffler couldn’t exert any further pressure, and his race was all but run after completing the front nine in two over par.

Further ground was lost on 13 and the difficult 15th before a birdie at the last finished off a pretty miserable day.

Scheffler may now be looking more towards the chance to win his first Fed Ex Cup title next season as he sits nine shots back of Hovland with one round to go.

It was a good day for U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, who carded a tidy round of 68 to move to 11 under par but, barring miracles on Sunday is playing for a good finish.

Jon Rahm also sits in the group at 11 under par after a 71 on Saturday.

The 2022/23 season has been memorable for the Spaniard, capturing 4 wins, including his second major at the Masters in April, but the second half of the season has been more of a challenge.

Rory McIlroy also put himself out of the picture. 

A 3rd round 71 wasn’t the worst score of the day by any stretch, but he sits 11 shots behind Hovland on 9 under par.

McIlroy will still focus on shooting the best round he can on Sunday, but he also must be thinking about getting his back fully healed before the Ryder Cup later in September.

The main question going into Sunday’s final round is, will anybody come out of the blocks with a fast start and put some pressure on Victor Hovland?

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Golf has been a passion of mine for over 30 years. It has brought me many special moments including being able to turn professional. Helping people learn to play this great game was a real highlight especially when they made solid contact with the ball and they saw it fly far and straight! Injury meant I couldn't continue with my professional training but once fully fit I was able to work on and keep my handicap in low single figures representing my golf club in local and regional events. Being able to combine golf with writing is something I truly enjoy. Helping other people learn more about golf or be inspired to take up the game is something very special.

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