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Scheffler on course for fourth victory of the year

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler will enter Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage with a one-stroke lead after his eight-under third round of 63 put him on pole position for a fourth win of the year.

The world number 1 leads thanks to a goal by the Austrian Sepp Straka, who shot 67 in Harbor Town, Hilton Head on Saturday.

Two of Scheffler’s final-round rivals from last week’s battle at Augusta National, Collin Morikawa and Masters runner-up Ludvig Aberg are also in the mix.

Morikawa is two shots behind Scheffler after his 68, while the Swede Aberg is still one shot back after carding his 68.

But the outcome is in Scheffler’s hands as he looks to add to his wins in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, The Players Championship and last week’s Masters for a fourth title in five starts.

There is no hangover after Scheffler’s impressive victory in Augusta, and he has emerged from the tournament with his best round on Saturday.

Scheffler was bogey-free, making five birdies on his front nine before adding three more after the turn, including signing off with a six-foot putt for birdie on the 18th.

“I felt like my ball striking was really good today,” he said. “Hit a lot of greens. I played the par five well. The par threes I felt today were very challenging, and I played the par threes very well.

“Overall it was a good effort. Proud of today’s score,” he added.

The 27-year-old Texan’s second victory at Augusta appears to have taken him from the category of highly respected players to a fan favorite and Scheffler said he has noticed a change in the crowd.

“It was really interesting, at No. 1 the stand behind it was full when I stood on the tee box, and by the time we got to the green I turned around and it was almost empty. It felt like the crowd came with me today, and there was definitely a lot of cheering, and it’s nice to have their support.

Although Scheffler is not a demonstrative player, he said fans should realize that this is not indicative of his attitude towards his supporters.

“I have always enjoyed playing in front of an audience. It may not seem like I’m paying much attention to them, but I can feel their energy and it’s great to have the support.”

However, Straka has his eye on a third PGA Tour victory after winning the John Deere Classic last year and the Honda Classic in 2022.

It was a clean, bogey-free round from the Viennese native, which was won with birdies at 16 and the final hole, where he drained a 16-footer.

The 30-year-old, who was part of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team last year, will face Scheffler on Sunday but said he will not let that influence him.

“I think I’ll just stick to my game. It’s always fun to watch him play. It’s incredible what he’s doing now. I’m just looking forward to competing.”

Morikawa put his final round disappointment at Augusta behind him with solid, consistent golf and although a bogey at the par-four 16th somewhat canceled out his effort, he was in optimistic mood.

“I definitely want to win,” he said. “There’s no reason why – if you look at the last two weeks, I’ve given myself opportunities, it’s time to take one.”

Aberg wants to crown his rise to number 7 in the world with his first Tour victory this season, but knows he faces another tough task in his attempt to beat Scheffler.

“I think we all expect him to be there, with the way he’s playing,” Aberg said. “All I’m trying to do is focus on myself and make sure I get the shots the way I want to, and then see where that takes me.”

South Africans Erik van Rooyen (three under, T50) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (two under, T55) carded 72 and 73 respectively.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images