Morikawa's late stumble gives Workday contenders a chance

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Collin Morikawa lines up a putt on the first green during the third round of the Workday Championship golf tournament, Feb. 27, 2021, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

BRADENTON, Fla. – PGA champion Collin Morikawa went from feeling he could do no wrong to wondering if he could do anything right, and that was just over the final hour Saturday in the Workday Championship.

What mattered at the end of the third round was he had a two-shot lead as he goes for his first World Golf Championship title, even knowing it could have been a lot bigger.

Morikawa walked off the 12th hole with his seventh birdie in eight holes, stretching his lead to five shots with two par 5s still to play. He made bogey on both, shot a 5-under 67 and suddenly had four-time major champion Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel on his tail.

“I didn’t play great the last six, but a lot to learn from heading into tomorrow,” Morikawa said. “Just to kind of clear my head to get ready for the 18-hole grind tomorrow.”

Koepka, who says his neck has been stiff for the last month, got his mistakes out of the way early by opening with a pair of bogeys and rallied late for a 70. Horschel also had a late rally with an eagle on the par-5 17th hole and shot 69.

Another shot back was Webb Simpson (69).

Rory McIlroy, who made a double bogey for the second straight day, was hopeful of getting to 10 under to at least give himself a chance. He did one better with a 66, including an eagle on the par-5 13th that gave so many players fits, and wound up just four shots behind.

“It seems like it’s one of these courses where it can give up a lot of birdies and some eagles and stuff, but it can bite you very quickly without really doing much wrong,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, it's one of these places where you just have to stay patient and know that you’re going to have chances.”