HomeSportsJT Poston leads RBC Heritage with the exhausted Scottie Scheffler six back

JT Poston leads RBC Heritage with the exhausted Scottie Scheffler six back

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Scottie Scheffler is running on steam after a grueling Masters win just four days ago. He hit a shaft from a bunker. He almost lost his mind because of the mud on his golf ball. And on Thursday he managed a 2-under 69 at the RBC Heritage.

JT Poston set the pace on an idyllic day on Hilton Head Island with nine birdies – six of them in a seven-hole stretch – for a 63 that gave him a two-stroke lead over Collin Morikawa and Seamus Power.

Ludvig Åberg, number two from Augusta, was still one shot behind in the group. Rory McIlroy birdied his last two holes to salvage a bad day with the irons for a 67.

Thousands of fans lined the fairways of Harbor Town to watch Scheffler, the Masters champion going for his fourth win in his last five tournaments. There were times when Scheffler didn’t look like the No. 1 player in the world, and he thought he might with very little time to prepare.

“That’s why I tried to give myself an extra bit of grace on the course today, just because yeah, a little emotionally exhausted. Definitely a bit mentally exhausted,” he said.

“I feel like I have more energy now than I did at the beginning of the day when I wake up to go play golf,” he said. “I think getting into the tournament, hitting some shots, getting a little frustrated, getting a little excited about my finish there, all good emotions to feel. It’s nice to be back in tournament mode again.”

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All but sixteen of the players in the 69-man field were present at the Masters, at least for part of the week. Poston closed with a 70 at Augusta National and arrived at Hilton Head Island with a little excitement away from golf. This is his first time traveling with his one-month-old daughter, Katherine Scott.

They call her Scottie, a surname from both sides of the family.

“Good time to be called Scottie,” Poston said, smiling.

Poston chipped from 20 yards on the par-3 fourth hole and embarked on a remarkable run – three consecutive birdies from the 10-foot range followed, and then a 15-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 ninth and another birdie from 10 meters. foot to start the back nine.

For Morikawa it was more of a confirmation that he is on the right track. The two-time Major winner was among those who held a share of the lead at the Masters on Sunday until he took a pair of double bogeys around the turn. He finished in a tie for third place.

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“A lot of the swinging thoughts that I would flip through the book would work for a day or two days and then it would be gone,” Morikawa said. “But look, it lasted the entire Masters. It took until here. What I do, it works. I just have to stick with that and understand why it works and just go out there and play golf.”

Scheffler and Jordan Spieth were in the group behind Poston and got all the attention: Scheffler as the dominant golfer, Spieth because his entertainment level is high. The fans probably weren’t expecting a shank, and neither was Scheffler.

It happened on the third hole. He was in a bunker to the right of the green and hit it from the snake of the club at a 45 degree angle away from the pin, over the green. He chipped to six feet and missed the putt, making a double bogey.

“I spend a fair amount of money on it, but never in competition,” Scheffler said. “I tried to give myself a little grace there. Obviously it was just a mental mistake and I hadn’t fully figured it out yet. I had a much better back nine.”

That had its moments too, all on one hole. The 11th gives him a charge off the tee, and he eventually drills one, only to see a clump of mud on his ball. He approached his head to the left and kept going as Scheffler shouted, “MUDBALL!” And the frustration was clearly visible.

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He talked loudly to himself in the fairway, especially when he saw the ball carom off a slope into the bunker, giving him an impossible shot. Scheffler did well to shoot to the edge, then holed the putt for par.

“I was obviously frustrated with those kind of pauses, and then going up there and hitting the putt in was a nice feeling,” he said. “I used it as a good momentum for the final piece.”

He hit a wedge to four feet for birdie on the 16th, made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and finished the day with another round under par. Scheffler now has 37 consecutive rounds in equal or better, dating back to last August’s Tour Championship.

Justin Thomas horribly missed the cut at the Masters by playing the last four holes in 7 over and missing one hole. He had just one hiccup on Thursday – a double bogey when he chipped into the bunker on the par-3 14th – which spoiled an otherwise decent round of 69.

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