An American is in good position to capture the gold medal heading into the final round of men's golf at the Tokyo Olympics, but it's not former Cal standout Collin Morikawa, the pre-tournament favorite.
Morikawa had his best day so far in the third round on Saturday in Japan (Friday night in California) at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan. He shot a 4-under-par 67, leaving him at 7-under for the tournament.
However, that is only good enough for an 11-way tie for 17th place and is seven shots off the lead heading into the final round Sunday (Saturday night in California).
The leader, at 14-under, is American Xander Schauffele, who shot a 3-under-par 68 in the third round to hold the lead he had after two rounds.
“It’s been a fun week. I’m in a good position heading into tomorrow,” Schauffele said afterward, according to The Guardian. “Today could have gotten away from me if I had a bad attitude or what-not, but I kind of hung tough. I fell back on certain parts of my game to hold me tight.”
“Tomorrow may feel a little different,” he said, according to the PGA Tour website. “There's a little bit more on the line than what we normally play for, and you're obviously trying to represent your country to the best of your ability. So that's why I'll be on the range tonight.”
Schauffele has a one-stroke lead over Hideki Matsuyama, who has the advantage or disadvantage of playing in his home country depending on how you view the intangible effects of familiarity and support of playing at home versus the pressure he faces to win a gold for Japan.
Another stroke back in third, at 12-under, are Paul Casey of England and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico. Lurking at 11-under is Rory McIlroy of Ireland.
With Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm out of the competition because they tested positive for COVID-19, Morikawa came into the Olympic golf event as the favorite after winning the British Open two weeks ago.
He was listed as the 7-to-1 favorite by Wiliam Hill Sportsbook before the opening round. Schuaffele and American Justin Thomas were next at 9-to-1.
Morikawa will tee off at 6:14 p.m. Pacific time tonight (Saturday) in a group that includes Thomas Detry and Joachim B Hansen.
The final group of Schauffele, Matsuyama and Casey don't tee off until 7:09 p.m., so it will be late Saturday night in California before the medal-winners are determined.
Morikawa finished his third round by making a long birdie putt on the 18th, giving him birdies on his final two holes. He also started the day well, carding an eagle-2 on the sixth hole and a birdie on the seventh to put him at 3-under after seven holes. Bogeys on No. 8, No. 13 and No. 16 marred his uneven round.
Hooper, Cupido score in U.S. water polo loss
Johnny Hooper and Luca Cupido scored one goal each, but the United States lost to Hungary 11-8, in men's water polo group play, handing the Americans their second loss.
The U.S. has one match in group play remaining (against Greece), and is still in good position to advance to the quarterfinals.
Also Saturday (Pacific time)
Cal's Camryn Rogers, who represents Canada, begins her qualification round in the women's hammer throw at 6:40 p.m. Pacific time Saturday.
Former Golden Bears swimmer Abbey Weitzeil seeks a medal in the final of the women's 50 freestyle, and Cal alum Tom Shields is hoping to a receive a medal for the United States in the 4x100 medley relay.
USA-Canada Soccer Semifinal Monday
Former Cal star Alex Morgan and her USA teammates will face Canada in a women's semifinal soccer game on Monday at 1 a.m. Pacific time (4 a.m. Eastern time).
Australia faces Sweden in the other semifinal game, which will follow the USA-Canada match.
Cover photo of Collin Mirokawa by Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports
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