Final round preview of the 2021 WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession

With 18 holes to play in the first World Golf Championship event of the year Collin Morikawa holds a two shot lead, but a pack of high-quality chasers are looking to hunt him down.

With six holes of the third round to play Collin Morikawa was in a position of dominance at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession Club.

The 24-year-old was five shots clear of the field, had ticked birdie at eight of his previous ten holes, and he was entering a stretch of the course he had enjoyed through the first two days.

History beckoned.

He was building strong foundations in his quest to join Tiger Woods as the only golfer to claim Major Championship and WGC success before the age of 25.

And then back nine bit back.

Morikawa's run of par-breakers came to an end, the peloton closed down on him, and now we are set for a thrilling final round.

Let's take a closer look at the conclusion to round three and cast an eye forward to Sunday's action.

The gap narrows

In rounds one and two Morikawa made even birdies over the last six holes at The Concession - he also made a six.

He'd have preferred to have repeated the former, alas it was the latter which he scratched on his card and not only once.

He made bogey-6s at the 13th and 17th (both times three-putting) and failed to add to his tally of birdies; meanwhile, two of his fellow Americans made late moves in the opposite direction.

Billy Horschel followed a birdie at 16 with a sensational eagle-3 at the 17th, Brooks Koepka made birdies at the same two holes, and Morikawa's five shot lead became two.

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He sits atop the leaderboard on 15-under 201, with Horschel and Koepka on 13-under 203, but there are three big names close behind and ready to mount Sunday challenges of their own.

Webb Simpson is solo fourth on 12-under, with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed a shot further back in a share of fifth on 11-under.

The leading contenders:

Collin Morikawa (70-64-67)

That stat about him joining very elite company (Tiger Woods) in becoming the first winner of a Major and WGC before the age of 25 is striking: it emphasises just what a stunning introduction Morikawa has made at the highest level.

He's already in company with the great man in another sense, because before yesterday only Woods has made 23 birdies in the first 54 holes of this event. Now Morikawa has, too.

"I just kept rolling birdie after birdie," he said. "Really didn't think about it, game was playing simple.

"Then the three-putt stalled the round and it never got going again.

"Tomorrow I'm just going to stay committed for every hole, every shot and we'll see what happens."

In his 39 starts on the PGA Tour Morikawa has undoubtedly impressed, logging three wins, two seconds and a fourth.

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However, they have all come away from Bermuda grass.

He's still seeking a first top six finish on grainy greens. He's on course to change that Sunday, but will he break the run in the finest style possible?

He leads the field for Strokes Gained Approach (8.262) and Tee to Green (10.959), and only one man has hit more Greens in Regulation.

Billy Horschel (67-67-69)

His challenge appeared to have withered with two back nine bogeys on Saturday, before he bounced back in such stunning style at 16 and 17.

He leads the field for hitting Greens in Regulation (44 of 54) and also Scrambling (80%) which is a neat combination.

He was in contention on his last start at TPC Scottsdale, ahead of finishing poorly but insisted that he learned a big lesson from that experience.

He's a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the high-pressure and very lucrative 2014 Tour Championships, but this would be a first win in nearly four years.

Moreover, that Tour Championship win notwithstanding, he has a poor record in elite company: just one Major top five in 28 starts and not one in 20 WGC appearances.

Brooks Koepka (67-66-70)

He defied neck pain to put himself in position to become the first multiple winner of the 2020-21 season and yet he sounds thoroughly miserable about the injury.

"I've tried everything," he said. "I don't wish it upon anybody, it's not fun. A first time with a stiff neck and it sucks."

He's on course for a first top 15 finish in this tournament, but can he land a second WGC title?

Koepka has a stiff neck.
Koepka has a stiff neck.

His putting has been superb all week (he's said he's very happy to be back on his favoured Bermuda grass), but he's had his struggles with chipping: he ranks second for SG Putting (4.691) and 39th Around the Green (-0.461).

He's been second after 54 holes seven times on the PGA Tour and from that position has never finished outside the top three, winning three times.

Webb Simpson (66-69-69)

A Major Champion and also winner of THE PLAYERS Championship, but Simpson is chasing a first WGC success in his 21st start (and just a second top six finish).

He argues that he's putting well and yet his Strokes Gained stats beg to differ: he ranks 32nd for Putting and top seven for Approach, Around the Green and Tee to Green.

"I wish I was where Collin is," he said. "But I feel comfortable knowing I still have a chance."

Rory McIlroy (69-70-66)

History beckons because if he can maintain his Saturday pace and claim the win he would emulate Dustin Johnson, currently the only man to have won all four WGC titles.

That said, he was a little down on the current state of his swing afterwards and also said: "I can't really think about winning or trying to, I just have to go out and shoot another good score. Got to keep the big numbers off my card. Not been doing that."

The stats reveal the swing worries: T27th for GIR (and he's also T46th for Scrambling).

He's been four shots back of the lead at this stage 17 times in his career, winning twice, most famously at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship.

Patrick Reed (68-68-69)

On the quest to complete an oddball hat trick because the win here would be his third in the event and each of them would have been on a different course.

That said, round three was "a struggle" and he bemoaned being out of kilter with his wedges.

Will a final round tee time with Rory McIlroy light the fire within? The two played one of the great Ryder Cup matches and it is bound to be discussed by TV - will the two players be inspired by the memories?

His stats are not great: not top five in any individual SG category and a best of T10th in traditional stats.

Paddy Power's prices for the top six are: Collin Morikawa 13/8, Brooks Koepka 3/1, Billy Horschel 15/2, Webb Simpson 9/1, Rory McIlroy 10/1, Patrick Reed 14/1

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