Instead, the main names of the new Saudi LIV Golf circuit have had a disappointing performance in the tournament, mainly Phil Mickelson and Sergio García, who did not make the cut this Friday.
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The one who will be there is the weekend is the Colombian Juan Sebastián Muñoz, who overcame a weak round on Thursday and a bad start on Friday, with a double bogey on the first hole of his course, to finish with 143 hits (+3), just on the limit to get into the rounds on Saturday and Sunday .
Morikawa, 25, tamed the challenging The Country Club (7,254 yards (6.6 km) with an excellent card of 66 strokes (-4), achieving five birdies and committing only one bogey.
“Right now my game feels great,” Morikawa congratulated himself. “The last few days are a big confidence boost for me going into this weekend, and hopefully we can distance ourselves somewhat.”
If he wins the trophy, Morikawa would be the first golfer since the absent Tiger Woods to lift three different major titles in a three-year period.
“I can’t really talk about what it would be like to win here. I have to focus on tomorrow,” he remarked.
“It’s fantastic for golf to have the highest ranked players and the best players up there, especially in the tournament where really the best player ends up winning,” Rahm said. “It’s fun for all of us because we all want to compete against the best and beat the best,” he stressed.
The number two in the world ranking improved his solid round on Thursday (69 strokes) with another 67 (-3), signing an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys.
The Basque golfer has a cumulative 136 (-4), tied for third place with Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, winner of four Grand Slams, and Americans Hayden Buckley, Beau Hossler and Aaron Wise.
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Reserving his place for the duel of stars, Scottie Scheffler recorded his best round in the Open (67 shots) on Friday and is only two shots from the head. This reaction allows the winner of the last Augusta Masters to aspire to join Tiger Woods as the only world number ones to win the Open.
The first Latin American player in the table is the Chilean Joaquín Niemann, who ranks 31st, while his compatriot Mito Pereira was left out of the cut.
Although expelled from the PGA, the “dissenting” players are authorized by the United States Golf Association to compete at Brookline against their former teammates on the US tour.
Drawing wide eyes from rivals and fans alike, two of LIV’s biggest names, American Phil Mickelson and Spaniard Sergio Garcia, were eliminated after another disappointing performance on Friday.
Mickelson had stumbled on 78 strokes (+8) on Thursday, the day of his 52nd birthday, and this Friday he could barely improve his record to 73 strokes (+3) to place himself in 134th place with a cumulative +11, when the cut-off line stood at +3.
Upon his departure, the Californian described the event as “spectacular” after receiving mostly supportive comments from the spectators.
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“The fans here have always been amazing. They create a really special atmosphere,” said Mickelson, who had not competed in his country for four months.
The Saudi circuit offers its members the largest prize pools in the history of the sport, with 25 million dollars in each regular season event, 7.5 million more than the total distributed by this US Open.