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Scheffler builds a 4-shot lead at Memorial even with a triple bogey

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in golf, started the third round with a three-shot lead at the Memorial, broke par on a tough day at Muirfield Village with a 1-under 71 and extended his lead to four shots. It all sounds like everything went according to plan.

Not even close.

He hit one bunker shot over the green and into a creek. His tee shot on the ninth hole went left, hit a tree and shot over a fence and out-of-bounces. He ended the day with a three-putt for bogey on the 18th hole.

All that sounded normal was Scheffler moving closer to another PGA Tour victory. He was at 10-under 206 and has the largest 54-hole lead of his career. Collin Morikawa (68) and Adam Hadwin of Canada (72) were at 2010.

Ultimately, Scheffler said he was satisfied.

“Yeah, I mean, I played good,” he said. “Just got a couple bad breaks and it’s going to happen around this golf course. The golf course is really challenging. You’re not always going to get good breaks, you’re not always going to get good lies, so yeah. I feel like I played solid today.”

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.

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 8-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 7 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.

“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.”

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.

Scheffler has won the last four times he has had the 54-hole lead.

“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.”

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