Kevin Kisner holds a one-shot lead heading into the final day of the US PGA Championship following a dramatic finish to third round at Quail Hollow Club, where the famously challenging final three holes claimed numerous victims.
Kisner himself emerged from the so-called ‘Green Mile’ with three dropped shots after a double-bogey at the 16th and a bogey at the last to sign for a one over 72 and a seven under total, while his American compatriot Chris Stroud finished with back-to-back bogeys for a 71 to share second place with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
Matsuyama, winner of last week’s WGC-Bridgestone-Invitational, emerged unscathed from the brutal final three holes to finish with a 73 and keep his hopes of a first Major title alive, while Justin Thomas (69) of the USA and South African Louis Oosthuizen (71) are a shot further back on five under.
The most dramatic collapse came courtesy of Jason Day’s quadruple-bogey eight after attempting a miracle shot from behind a tree, ultimately in vain, as the Australian – playing in the final group – saw his hopes of a second US PGA Championship title fade in one disastrous hole.
Italian Francesco Molinari endured a tough start to his third round at the North Carolina venue as he started double bogey-bogey-bogey but he battled to a three over 74 and remains within touching distance, five strokes off the pace on two under.
“I’m happy I’m in the position I’m in. I had a chance to run away from guys and take people out of the tournament that were four, five or six back, and I didn’t do it. Now I’m in a dogfight tomorrow and I have to be prepared for that.
“I’ve been happy with the driver all week. I drove it really well, and then today I hit a lot of great putts that just burned edges and I thought the greens were more difficult to hold putts. Nobody in our group made hardly anything. Obviously not many in the field did, with the scores, and hopefully tomorrow, they will all start falling.
“I’m pretty good at keeping it all in, and you know, the golf course here is so hard – if you get annoyed, you’re just going to throw away more shots. There’s no real reason to show that emotion. I’ll show plenty of emotion if I win tomorrow, don’t worry.”
“The number one thing for me was, I didn’t really hit a lot of great shots but I didn’t really hit a lot of really bad shots. My bad shots were in play, especially off the tee. I hit a few loose drives, but it was always playable and I made a lot of great up-and-downs, especially early.
“And then I hit a few nice shots in the middle of the round. I didn’t really make many putts, but I made some nice saves today. The golf course played very difficult, and obviously the last two holes — I bogeyed the last two. I didn’t hit a good putt on 17, I kind of pulled that and it almost went in. On 18, I hit the best putt of the day and it didn’t go in.
“I’ve made a fair share of putts this week. I’m not upset about it. I’m just happy to have a chance to win tomorrow and see what happens.”
“I’m disappointed the way I played today. However, I’m happy to just to be one stroke back and still have a chance and looking forward to tomorrow.
“Probably the pressure had something to do with it, being in the last group of a major tournament. But all week I haven’t been spot on all week. And the worries that I had about my swing showed up today in the way I played.”
“I looked up just before I hit it and I told my caddie, I’ll show you a little trick shot here. I saw something in front of the ball but I didn’t think it was a root – I thought it was something loose. I banged the eight iron against it pretty bad and immediately my forearm got a shock.
“Then in the next five minutes it started to cramp up and it got really tight. Luckily on six we had a bit of a wait and my physio could release it a bit. I felt it a little bit on the 14th tee again on a different spot but I was never hurt so it was fine. I was just scared it was going to tighten up really badly but it should be fine.”
“It was just the start that was so disappointing. I hit a bad tee shot on the first, should have gotten away with a bogey but three-putted from the back. The second was unlucky because I got it on the middle of the fairway and the sedond shot just came out straight left.
“Then there was another pulled tee-shot on the third and a terrible lie so it wasn’t the start I was looking for. I managed to hang on though and the reaction after that was good. I didn’t have my A-game today but I fought hard, made birdies where I could and all in all, there’s a bitter taste but I’m happy with the way I fought after the start.
“We saw on the second day you can shoot 66 or 67 around here, it’s not easy at all but if I hit the ball like I did on the second day off the tee – hitting the fairway most of the time – I’ll have a fair amount of chances.
“Hopefully it will be a little less hot than today because it was roasting out there and hopefully quicker too because it’s a long time to be out there in these temperatures. Physically it was hard too.
“This is what we train for, to be in a position like this in a Major. Obviously after yesterday I would have hoped to be a bit closer but I’m still going in top ten and that’s good and if I can’t challenge for the title I should try to finish as high as I possibly can anyway.”
206 Kevin Kisner
207 Chris Stroud; Hideki Matsuyama
208 Justin Thomas; Louis Oosthuizen
210 Grayson Murray
211 Graham DeLaet; Patrick Reed; Gary Woodland; Scott Brown; Francesco Molinari
212 Chez Reavie; Sung Kang; Ryan Fox; Rickie Fowler
213 Paul Casey; Jason Day
214 J.B. Holmes; Satoshi Kodaira; Henrik Stenson; Robert Streb; Chris Wood; James Hahn; Tony Finau; Byeong Hun An
215 Billy Horschel; Pat Perez; Richard Sterne; Jordan Smith; Matt Kuchar; Zach Johnson; Brian Harman; Patrick Cantlay; Ryan Moore; Brooks Koepka; D.A. Points
216 Kevin Chappell; Sean O’Hair; Thorbjørn Olesen; David Lingmerth; Jordan Spieth; Ian Poulter; Jon Rahm; Jim Herman; Charl Schwartzel; Bryson DeChambeau
217 Kelly Kraft; Marc Leishman; Jamie Lovemark; Steve Stricker; Lucas Glover; Jason Kokrak; Keegan Bradley; Dustin Johnson; Bill Haas; Rory McIlroy; Shane Lowry; Bud Cauley
218 Jason Dufner; Webb Simpson; Tommy Fleetwood; Alex Noren
219 Charley Hoffman
220 K.T. Kim; Hideto Tanihara; Lee Westwood; Daniel Summerhays
221 Cody Gribble; Adam Scott; Anirban Lahiri; Dylan Frittelli
223 Russell Henley
224 Vijay Singh; Omar Uresti
225 Charles Howell III