Defending champion Viktor Hovland fires nine-under 62 to claim two-shot lead in Mexico

Ryder Cup star Viktor Hovland put himself on course to become the first player to successfully defend the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba after firing a career-low 62 in the third round

Last Updated: 06/11/21 11:37pm

Viktor Hovland leads by two after a 62

Viktor Hovland fired a career-best 62 to open up a two-shot lead after the third round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.

Hovland’s nine-birdie round hoisted him to the top of the leaderboard on 19 under, two clear of Talor Gooch and three ahead of Justin Thomas as overnight leader Matthew Wolff crashed to a 74 and ended the day nine shots off the pace.

World No 17 Hovland cruised to the turn in 32 before starting the back nine with three birdies in four holes, and he also birdied 17 and 18 to snatch the outright lead from Gooch, who raced home in 30 to card a 63.

Mayakoba leaderboard

Final round tee times

Hovland posted 20 under when he pipped Aaron Wise to the title in December last year, and he is again feasting on a soft and forgiving El Camaleon Golf Course which could have yielded a 59 with a touch of good fortune, not that the young Norwegian was complaining, given his position.

Hovland is using a borrowed driver at Mayakoba

Hovland is using a borrowed driver at Mayakoba

“I got the max out of my game, essentially,” said the Ryder Cup star. “I did hit some approaches that were 40 feet, 30 feet and even 50 feet and when that kind of happens, you’re just expecting to two-putt and move on. Then when I did hit a nice approach shot, I took advantage of it.

“So I felt like I got max out of my game, but obviously to shoot 59 you’ve got to chip in and you’ve got to hole a 50-footer or some longer putts and I didn’t quite do that today, but I’m not too disappointed.

“That was fun today. Obviously I got off to a nice start and it was nice to have one of those rounds where you can kind of keep it going throughout the day instead of maybe slowing down towards the end there where, frankly, there are some tough holes.”

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Hovland has been delighted with his driving accuracy throughout the tournament having had to borrow a driver from James Hahn after a bizarre speed training incident involving Danny Lee on Wednesday.

After watching Lee crank his ball speed up to 185mph, Hovland invited the New Zealander to see what results he could get with his driver, only for the shaft in Hovland’s driver to shatter after one big Kiwi swing.

“I think I was just more lucky that I just want to thank James Hahn for giving me a good back-up driver,” said Hovland, who revealed the shaft in Hahn’s spare driver is half an inch shorter than he is used to. “That thing’s been amazing.

Hovland is looking to become the first back-to-back winner in Mexico

Hovland is looking to become the first back-to-back winner in Mexico

“Obviously it’s not the ideal situation, but as soon as I just hit a few shots with it, and I actually went to a course not too far away from here and tested it on the golf course, as soon as I saw it just go pretty straight, it wasn’t much of an issue or not.

“I don’t know, I might have to give it back, but I’m sure we can figure something out. I think it’s half an inch shorter, I haven’t really measured it out.

“But I think it actually helps that it’s this week because it’s tight, you don’t really need that much length off the tee, and with it being a little shorter, I can hit it a little lower and it’s just going so much straighter. Yeah, it’s kind of been a blessing in disguise.”

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