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American, Collin Morikawa has opened up a two-shot lead at the Tournament of Champions at the halfway stage of the competition. A round of 66 (seven under par) was enough for the 25-year-old to top the leaderboard after two days of play in Kapalua, Maui.
The tournament is the first PGA event of the year and is comprised of last year’s tournament winners and the top 30 in the FedEx Cup. Eight of the world’s top ten players are involved, meaning it is a prestigious start to the year.
However, reigning champion Cameron Smith isn’t involved after his decision to join the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Tour.
A flawless two rounds
Morikawa will certainly be delighted by his start to the tournament. After day one he was tied for the lead with J.J. Spaun and John Rahm but pulled away from the pair on day two. Spaun, who enjoyed a decent round of 68, is two shots behind the leader alongside Scottie Scheffler. Rahm, on the other hand, has slipped down the leaderboard a little and is five shots behind Morikawa.
Morikwaka is yet to card a bogey over two days of action and looks on course to pick up the £11.8m prize money on Sunday.
In terms of British and Irish interest, Matt Fitzpatrick is still in with a shout and is five shots off the pace. The 2022 US Open winner shot a 69 on Friday to stay in contention but knows he will need to go lower than that over the weekend if he is to come out victorious.
Irishman, Séamus Power is two shots further back in joint 12th, while World Number One Rory Mcilroy elected not to play in the event.
After his round on Friday, Morikawa was pleased with how he had played despite the increase in wind over the course of the day. He told SkySports:
“Just similar to yesterday, pretty solid, made some good puts. Obviously, it played a lot harder with the wind and the fairways were rolling pretty fast. You’ve just got to play shots and kind of hit ‘em to good spots, and thankfully we were able to take advantage of enough holes today to kind of keep those birdies going”.
The chasing pack
Morikawa’s closest opponents are Scottie Scheffler and J.J Spaun. Master’s Champion Scheffler, who has been vocal in his opposition to the LIV Tour in recent days, fired in four birdies on the final four holes to fire himself up the leaderboard and will be the player Morikawa is most fearful of heading into the weekend.
Spaun, on the other hand, is just going about his business quietly and finished his second round with just the one bogey on the par-four fourth. Speaking to SkySports after his round, he said:
“I drove it well again. I don’t think I hit a really bad tee-shot. It’s kind of hard to miss fairways out here, other than hitting it too far. But, yeah, I kind of tried to say mistake-free. I had one three-putt, and that was kind of the only blunder of the day.”