by Ronan MacNamara
Rory McIlroy. By Golffile
Rory McIlroy suffered a disastrous third round as he fell to a three-over 75 to lie third last at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
The tone was set after McIlroy opened with a bogey and he followed that with nine consecutive pars before his hopes of a third win of 2021 came crashing to a halt after a calamitous quadruple bogey nine on the par-5 11th which further highlighted his plight on the long holes.
Birdies on 13 and 14 were too little too late as he came home in 38 to fall a distant fourteen shots behind runaway leader Collin Morikawa who can go to the top of the world rankings with a win on Sunday.
Much was made of a potential Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka rematch over the weekend. But any fans who were holding out for such a scenario will have to wait after DeChambeau fell to a one-over 73 to lie eight adrift of Morikawa who is eighteen-under.
Koepka is Morikawa’s nearest challenger on thirteen-under, five adrift of the Open Champion.
Morikawa was in unplayable form as he looks for back-to-back wins after a flawless eight-under 64 that saw him obliterate the field.
They say a happy golfer off the course makes a happy golfer on the course and that seems to be the case for the 24-year-old who got engaged earlier this week.
The opportunity for the perfect week looms large on Sunday for the two-time major champion.
Morikawa roared out of the traps with an eagle, birdie run on holes three and four. Three birdies in a row from 9 to 11 proved critical before he asserted his dominance with a brace of birdies on 14 and 15.
A quick call about his driving with his coach Rick Sessinghaus was key to the American’s third round.
“I called my coach this morning, Rick Sessinghaus, and I said yesterday that the driver wasn't working. Figured out a little thing on the range and still wasn't working great, but found something on 16, just something that I can use for tomorrow, and everything else feels pretty good from there.”
With the potential to go to the top of the world on Sunday, Morikawa said he won’t waver from his normal routine.
“I've just got to go out and, look, this course, if there's not a lot of wind, a lot of guys out here can make a lot of birdies early on. I just have to go out and just play the way I have been and be ready by hole one and play all the way through. Nothing's going to be a gimme tomorrow.
“I think the game plan I have so far, it's not like I'm playing crazy or I'm playing stupid, I'm playing to my strengths and that's what I have to stick with. I'm going to keep doing what I do and if I don't feel comfortable on a tee shot, maybe play back, but overall I feel really good about the game so far,” he added.
Morikawa will have to hold off four-time major winner, Brooks Koepka on Sunday but regardless of the result he is happy with where his game is after switching equipment manufacturers to Srixon.
“I'm just more excited seeing the equipment than anything. It's been very, very easy, which is nice. Everything's reacting the way I want it to, so I'm pleased with that, but I'm still not kicking on all cylinders, but yeah, it's definitely a step in the right direction, so I'm very happy.
“Five back, so I've got to do something, so I guess yeah. It's always nice to be in the last group, but still got to play good,” he added.