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Hideki Matsuyama Maintains Lead Heading into Final Round at ZOZO Championship

The Japanese fan favorite held a one-shot advantage over American Cameron Tringale following the second straight round of play.

Hideki Matsuyama hits off the tee on the 14th hole of the ZOZO Championship third round at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club on October 23.

For the second straight day, Hideki Matsuyama held a one-stroke advantage after a round of golf was completed at the ZOZO Championship in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture.

The 2021 Masters champion, who is vying for his seventh PGA Tour title, shot a 2-under 68 on Saturday, October 23 at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club to maintain his slim lead.

Matsuyama was at 10-under 200 (64-68-68) entering the final round.

He birdied the second, fifth, sixth, ninth and 16 holes. On the 18th hole, Matsuyama had his second bogey of the day, prolonging his round by an off-target putt. 

Matsuyama completed the round with four birdies and two bogeys.

Cameron Tringale, who trailed Matsuyama by one stroke after Friday’s second round, carded a 2-under 68 and retained his position with an accumulative score of 9-under 201.

Sebastian Munoz, Brendan Steele and Matt Wallace were a further three strokes adrift at 6-under 204. Munoz shot a 68 and Steele and Wallace carded even-par 70s in the third round. 

Munoz, who hails from Bogota, Colombia, had an up-and-down performance, finishing with six birdies and four bogeys.

A strong breeze impacted conditions on the course, according to California native Tringale.

“It was really tricky out there with the wind,” Tringale was quoted as saying by Reuters. “So two-under is a pretty good score. Just got to move on when you get a tough gust and I was able to do that, so pleased with the day.”

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Collin Morikawa, the 2021 British Open champion, finished the third round with a memorable sequence that ended with a chip-in eagle on the par-5 18th hole. After carding a 1-over 71 in the first round, Morikawa lowered his score for the second straight day. He shot 68 in the second round and 67 in the third.

Looking back at what happened on his last hole in the third round, Morikawa described the sequence this way, according to The Associated Press: “I did something in my career that I haven’t done yet, was shank a shot. Yeah, shanked a pitching wedge straight in the trees. It was kind of a grind. I really had no clue where the ball was going to go, I was kind of just trying to make contact and thankfully the putter was working today. 

“Obviously [it was] really nice to finish on a couple lucky breaks with the tee shot left ending up in the fairway, hitting a bad second shot and then chipping in obviously to end the day.”

Tom Hoge and Shugo Imahira had the best rounds of the day, both shooting 4-under 66s.

Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood and Branden Grace, who carded a 70 and a 67, respectively, sat at 5-under 205 entering the fourth round.

Hiroshi Iwata, the tourney’s early leader after shooting a 63 in the opening round, was nine shots off the pace after recording a 73 on back-to-back days.

Morikawa predicted the final round could produce a few surprises. 

“We never know. Obviously I’m going to have to go make birdies tomorrow, Hideki’s obviously not going to make a bunch of bogeys, but we’ll see where the day ends,” Morikawa said, according to AP. “We always feel like we’re always within striking distance and just got to get off to a good start.”

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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