June 15th, 2024

Scheffler builds 4-shot lead at Memorial; Hadwin remains in hunt


By Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press on June 8, 2024.

Scottie Scheffler hits from the second tee in the third round of the Memorial golf tournament, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) – Scottie Scheffler hit out of a bunker over the green and into the water. He hit a tee shot over a boundary fence and made a triple bogey. He three-putted his last hole. All that, and he posted a 1-under 71 and increased his lead Saturday in the Memorial.

In his final start before the U.S. Open, Scheffler seized control despite a couple of blunders on a tough Muirfield Village course. 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 of Abbotsford, B.C.., 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 tough enough that he never fell out of the lead, even after the triple bogey.

“Did a good job resetting and bouncing back,” Scheffler said. “Had the nice birdie on 10 and 12 and did a good job kind of staying in the round today.”

Nick Taylor of Abbotsford and Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., are tied for 38th at 4 over. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is a shot back at 5 over. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., is tied for 45th at 6 over.

Morikawa will be in the final group with Scheffler, just as he was at the Masters. He is a past champion at Muirfield Village, winning the Workday Charity Open in 2020 when the course Jack Nicklaus built hosted consecutive tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a really good score tomorrow,” Morikawa said. “But this course bites. You might look at some of these holes as birdie opportunities, but 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 already was starting to pull away until his second shot to the par-5 fifth strayed right into a bunker, leaving him 45 yards over another bunker and across the green to the pin.

“Just caught it a little thin,” he said, and the ball went a long way – over the green, over the rough and into the creek on the fly. He made an eight-foot putt just to save bogey, and with Hadwin holing a 30-foot eagle putt, the lead was down to two.

On the next hole, Scheffler was in a fairway bunker and hit pitching wedge over the water to seven feet in front of a pin on a crown, making birdie.

The real trouble came on No. 9 when Scheffler pulled his tee shot and it struck a tree so hard 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 back right pin.

“Seemed like an unnecessary risk,” he said of going under a smaller tree in front and over the big one. He laid up into the first cut, chased 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 to a back pin on the 10th hole for birdie, and he was on his way. He also picked up a birdie on the scary par-3 12th over water, a shot made difficult by the gusting wind, and his lead was back to five shots with a birdie on the par-5 15th.

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

Defending champion Viktor Hovland also was lingering in range until an atrocious back nine that started with a shot in the water on the par-5 11th led to 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 for the PGA Tour Enterprises meeting with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf on Friday afternoon, had a 73 and was eight back.

This is Scheffler’s tournament now, though he still has to face a Muirfield Village course that is getting drier and windier and harder. Scheffler has four wins this year, but he has never gone into the final round leading by more than one.

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

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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