ATLANTA — It’s Viktor Hovland’s world right now; we just live in it.
The 25-year-old Norwegian shot a 4-under 66 at East Lake Golf in Atlanta to improve to 20-under par and open a six-stroke lead at the Tour Championship, the third and final leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Hovland carded back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7, the latter a 12-foot putt. He had a four-stroke lead at 18 under when play was suspended due to lightning in the area.
“We thought last Sunday was good,” CBS’s Frank Nobilo said. “This is just as good.”
Hovland came back when play resumed and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13. He bogeyed 14 but drilled a 6-iron to 15 feet on the water-sheltered 212-yard par-3 15th. .
“The pin was to the right, which made the green feel a little bigger to me,” he said. “It was a perfect 6 iron.”
While a touchdown seems like it should be an insurmountable advantage — it’s the largest 54-hole lead lost in Tour history — Scottie Scheffler blew a lead of the same amount last year in a bid to win the $18 million prize . That is over DKK 192 million for Hovland.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “But we are here to win tournaments. There are a lot of hungry players behind me who can shoot 61 tomorrow. I have to be ready.”
Schauffele gets a place in the last group
If it’s late August at East Lake, Xander Schauffele must make birdies at the Tour Championship.
A cash machine at the playoff final, Schauffele qualifies for his seventh consecutive year and has never finished worse than T-7. He has the most top-5 finishes without winning the FedEx Cup title, although he won the Tour Championship in 2017 before Starting Strokes was implemented.
Schauffele started the week T-11 and has steadily climbed the leaderboard, earning a spot in the final group along with Hovland. After rounds of 67-64, Schauffele made three birdies in his first seven holes, but made three bogeys that canceled out two more birdies en route to the clubhouse and a round of 2-under 68.
“I know what I have to do,” Schauffele said. “I’ve got to go out and try to put as much pressure on him tomorrow on that front nine as I can and hope for the best.”
Morikawa and Bradley share third
Morikawa, who was the only player in the 30-man field to go bogey-free in the first two rounds, made a double bogey at the fifth after his lob shot landed in a greenside bunker and failed to get it up and down. He dropped two more shots with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 and waited until No. 16 to make his lone birdie of the day.
After shooting a tournament record 61-64 for the first 36 holes, Morikawa posted a 3-over 73 to drop to 13 under.
Bradley is tied for third with Morikawa. He made four birdies and four bogeys in an up-and-down round of 70. Bradley bogeyed the difficult par-3 15th for the third straight day.
Scheffler and Rahm falter
Scheffler and Jon Rahm are tied in the final round of the final FedEx Cup event. But after dueling for the FedEx Cup lead for most of the season, they find themselves nine off the pace set by Hovland, who left them in the dust. It didn’t help that the leading contenders for player of the year both fired a dud on “Moving Day.”
Rahm hit the water off the tee on No. 8 and made double bogey, added a bogey at 11 and made just two birdies en route to shooting 71.
Scheffler didn’t make a birdie until 18 and shot a 3-over 73. He three-putted 7, missing just over a foot, and even after one-putting the last four holes, he’s tied for 25th.th out of the 30-man field in Strokes Gained: Putting.
The heat is on
When Rickie Fowler finished his round, he signed autographs, sweat dripping down his face like it was a balmy 70 degrees, not a heat index of 105 degrees. But Fowler knew where he was going when he finished signing.
“I have to get in a cold jump,” he said.
In the end, the burning heat won and the game was called off at 5:28 PM ET for one hour and 15 minutes due to lightning strikes in the area. (It was designated a code red.) It cooled down for the rest of the play, which ended just before 1 p.m. 8.30 p.m
Sunday’s temperature is expected to dip to 97, but when it’s that hot, it’s just uncomfortable.