NorwayViktor Hovland birdied five of the last seven holes to shoot 64 and share the lead after the second round of the US PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship (Mike Ehrmann)
Norway’s Viktor Hovland birdied five of the last seven holes to share the lead with American Collin Morikawa after Friday’s second round of the US PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship.
World number five Hovland, who won last week’s BMW Championship, and two-time major winner Morikawa each fired six-under par 64s to move to 16 under after 36 holes at East Lake in Atlanta.
“I just started hitting my approach shots a little bit closer than I did on the front nine and started making some putts,” Hovland said of his closing run.
“It felt really nice. Been driving it really well all week.”
Morikawa closed with back-to-back birdies, sinking putts from 10 feet at 17 and two feet at the par-5 18th, and is the only player without a bogey so far this week.
“I felt like I was in control,” Morikawa said. “Maybe I didn’t hit my number on the spot, but we were within two or three yards. I’m not going to complain.”
World number one Scottie Scheffler was third at 14-under after a 65 with American Keegan Bradley fourth at 13-under after a 67 followed by reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm and Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, who fired 64 and shared fifth at 12-under. .
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, battling a back injury, was seventh at 10 under after a 67.
The opening scores in the FedEx Cup Playoff Final were staggered based on season points, with top-ranked Scheffler at 10 under, Hovland next at 8 under and other rivals at lower levels.
Scheffler opened at 71 to squander the unusual edge, while Morikawa shot 61 but only shared the 18-hole lead with Hovland and Bradley because of the offset.
The winner gets a top prize of $18 million in the bonus playoff.
Morikawa’s 125 for two rounds – not including the season points factor – broke the event’s 36-hole record of 127 set by Tiger Woods in 2007.
“Hit a couple of squirrels. Get rid of them,” Morikawa said. “Made a couple of birdies out of them. I missed a few, they went where I wanted them to. That’s all you can really ask for.
“Instead of 45 feet, you might have 25 feet. That’s when you’re able to convert, keep the round going, hopefully keep piling birdies on after another.”
World number five Hovland, who fired a closing 61 to win last week, said he feels confident.
“Feels great. It starts off the tee when I know I’m going to put the ball on the fairway or if I miss it, it’s not much,” Hovland said.
“You just can’t attack it if you’re in the rough, so if I keep putting myself in the fairway, my iron game and short game and putting feel really good enough to make some birdies.”
– Weakness to strength –
Hovland is second in strokes gained with his short game, which had been a weakness before he worked on it.
“It’s been pretty incredible,” he said. “Before that, when I was standing over every shot, it was like, ‘Don’t sink it. Don’t leave it in the bunker.”
“Now it’s a lot of fun just to be able to open the face and just hit the ground and put some friction on the ball.”
Morikawa dropped his approach at the first hole two feet from the hole and tapped in for birdie, drove the green in two at the par-5 sixth and tapped in for birdie again, then added another birdie on an 11-foot putt at the eighth. .
After getting up and down from a bunker to avoid bogey on the par-3 ninth, Morikawa sank a six-foot birdie putt on the 12th to stay on top.
Hovland rattled off four consecutive birdies to take the lead, sinking putts from six feet on 12, 10 feet on the 13th, 15 feet on the 14th and 12 feet on the par-3 15th to reach 15-under.
“On the back nine, I started making some putts,” Hovland said. “You just try to build on it. Keep at it.”
Hovland curled in a 10-foot putt to birdie the 17th and extend his lead, but Morikawa matched him with his closing heroics.