Scottie Scheffler heads into the weekend two back and Keegan Bradley is three behind, with Jon Rahm sharing fourth spot with Xander Schauffele; Rory McIlroy is six back as he chases successive FedExCup titles; Watch the Tour Championship live on Saturday from 6pm on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 25/08/23 11:43pm
Viktor Hovland produced a back-nine birdie burst to share the halfway lead with Collin Morikawa at the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship.
Hovland, starting the week second in the standings after Sunday’s stunning BMW Championship victory, made five birdies in a six-hole stretch on his way to a brilliant second-round 64 at East Lake Golf Club.
The Norweigan set the clubhouse target at 16 under, before Morikawa joined him by following his opening-round 61 by signing off a bogey-free 64 with back-to-back birdies to continue his blemish-free start to the tournament.
-16 Viktor Hovland (Nor), Collin Morikawa (USA)
-14 Scottie Scheffler (USA)
Others: -13 Keegan Bradley (USA); -12 Jon Rahm (Esp), Xander Schauffele (USA); -10 Rory McIlroy (NIrl)
Scheffler sits in third place after a bogey-free 65 and Keegan Bradley is in fourth spot on 14 under, while Xander Schauffele lies a further stroke back alongside Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy heads into the weekend six off the lead.
Stars continue to impress at East Lake
Scheffler – playing in the penultimate group – birdied the first to temporarily make it a four-way tie at the top, only for Morikawa edge back ahead after following his opening-round 61 by starting with a birdie.
Hovland opened with three straight pars and holed from 10 feet at the fourth to match the birdie of Scheffler, with both players taking advantage of the par-five sixth to move to 12 under.
Morikawa also birdied the sixth and added another from 12 feet at the eighth to reach the turn one ahead of Scheffler, with Hovland a further shot back after failing to get up and down from off the green to save par at the seventh.
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Scheffler pulled level with a birdie at the 12th, where Hovland also picked up a shot to start his birdie burst, while Morikawa missed from inside four feet at the previous hole for the chance to restore his one-shot advantage.
Morikawa responded by birdieing the 12th to reclaim top spot, only for Hovland to convert from 10 feet at the 13th and match Scheffler’s birdie at the next to make it a three-way tie at top on 14 under.
Hovland made a fourth straight birdie at the 15th and added another at the 17th to temporarily double his lead, before laying up at the par-five last and signing off with a par, as Morikawa followed a birdie at the 17th with a two-putt gain at the 18th to leave the pair tied at the top.
McIlroy: “I’m limited in what I can do”
McIlroy continued to be troubled by back spasms during his second round, but the defending champion – looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the FedExCup – built on his opening-round 70 by carding a three-under 67 on Friday.
“I’m limited in what I can do, but I’m here grinding away, battling away,” McIlroy said. “So happy to be through 36 holes. I felt like I had a little more speed. I was probably half a club off my numbers than maybe a full club yesterday. But still it’s just hard to get my right side through the ball.
“It actually feels better with the longer clubs because I’m more upright in my posture. When I sort of get down to the shorter stuff, trying to stay in my posture is a struggle.”
McIlroy is set to return to Europe after the FedExCup Playoffs and play back-to-back DP World Tour events, starting at the Horizon Irish Open from September 7-10 before the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth a week later. The Ryder Cup then takes place in Italy from September 29-October 1.
“I would rather it [injury] pop up now than in three or four weeks’ time,” McIlroy added. “I’ve managed it well and I think I did well to get through yesterday. I’ve got through another day, so hopefully it feels a bit better over the weekend. Not great timing, but at the same time, it could be worse!”
Who can move ahead at the Tour Championship? Watch the PGA Tour’s season finale and the race for the FedExCup throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Saturday from 6pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour and more for £26 a month for 12 months with NOW.
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