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Scheffler avoids the triple bogey to lead Memorial by four

DOUG FERGUSON Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ohio — Scottie Scheffler hit from a bunker over the green into the water. He hit a tee shot over a boundary fence and made a triple bogey. He hit his final hole with three putts. All that, and he posted a 1-under 71 to extend his lead Saturday at the Memorial.

In his final start before the US Open, Scheffler seized control despite a few blunders on a tricky course at Muirfield Village. He still built a four-shot lead, moving closer to his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year.

Scheffler was at 10-under 206, four shots ahead of Collin Morikawa, who played bogey-free for a 68, and Adam Hadwin, who made all his mistakes on one hole and shot 72.

Scheffler answered with a birdie after both of his penalty shots, and Muirfield was strong enough that he never fell out of the lead, even after the triple bogey.

“Did a good job resetting and rebounding,” Scheffler said. “Had a nice birdie on 10 and 12 and did well to stay in the round today.”

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Morikawa is in the final group with Scheffler, just as he was at the Masters. He is a former champion at Muirfield Village and won the Workday Charity Open in 2020 when the course Jack Nicklaus built hosted back-to-back tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ll still have to go out there tomorrow and get a really good score,” Morikawa said. “But this course bites. You could look at some of these holes as birdie opportunities, but if you miss the fairway, you’re going to try to save par.”

Scheffler can appreciate that.

Starting with a three-shot lead, he made two quick birdies and was already starting to pull away until his second shot to the par-5 fifth went straight into a bunker, leaving him 150 feet above another bunker and over the green to the pin . .

“I just thought it was a little thin,” he said, and the ball went a long way – over the green, over the rough and into the creek in no time. He made an 8-foot putt just to save the bogey, and when Hadwin holed an Eagle putt from 30 feet, the lead was down to two.

On the next hole, Scheffler found himself in a fairway bunker and hit a pitching wedge over the water to 7 feet for a pin on a crown, making birdie.

The real problem came at No. 9 when Scheffler pulled his tee shot and hit it so hard against a tree that it ricocheted straight left, over a fence and out of bounds. He reloaded and hit the next shot into the right rough, with a tall tree blocking his path to a right rear pin.

“It seemed like an unnecessary risk,” he said of going under a smaller tree in front and over the big one. He lay down on the first cut, drove a wedge back to 15 feet and missed the putt.

That left him tied with Hadwin, but only as long as it took Scheffler to hit an 8-iron on a backpin on the 10th hole for birdie, and he was on his way. He also birdied the scary par-3 12th over water, a shot made difficult by the gusty winds, and his lead was back to five shots with a birdie at the par-5 15th.

Hadwin stayed within range until he caught a wedge on the 14th that was so thick it didn’t reach the green. He pitched to about 15 feet and three-putted for a double bogey. The bogey on the 18th was his only other mistake.

Defending champion Viktor Hovland also stayed within reach until a gruesome back nine, which started with a shot into the water on the par-5 11th, led to a bogey. He went long on the 12th for bogey, short on the 13th for bogey and long into the back bunker on the 14th for bogey.

Hovland then put his tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th for a triple bogey, shot 42 on the back nine and found himself nine shots out of the lead.

Rory McIlroy, who spent more than four hours on a Zoom call Friday afternoon for the PGA Tour Enterprises meeting with LIV Golf’s Saudi backers, had a 73 and was eight back.

This is Scheffler’s tournament now, although he still has to play a Muirfield Village course that is becoming increasingly drier, windier and more difficult. Scheffler has four wins this year, but he has never entered the final round with a lead of more than one.

“I’m going to go out tomorrow and try to play a good round of golf, keep my head down and stay in my own little world out there,” Scheffler said. “I’m not really going to pay attention to what anyone else is doing. I’m just going to do my best.”

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