Even on an easier ocean course, low scores are elusive at the PGA
KIAWAH ISLAND, SC
The wind was more manageable on Kiawah Island on Saturday, there were plenty of friendly hole pitches, and Pete Dye’s punishing seaside track was still not set to play its maximum distance.
Moving day to the PGA Championship? It could have been, but the ranking was mostly static.
Rickie Fowler, who finished nearly four hours before Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen’s final group, shot a under-3 69 – the sixth and, as it turned out, the last lap of the day in the 60s.
âEven though the wind has been a bit low for the past two days, it’s still a tough test from start to finish. Anything below par is a good thing, especially Saturday, to sort of get back to it – I guess kinda in the thick of it, âFowler said.
His par total of 216 left him with seven shots behind Mickelson, and considering how the rest of the day unfolded, Fowler couldn’t have asked for much more.
The Ocean Course averaged 73.0, 2 1/2 shots easier than the second round on Friday. But Dye’s design and major championship pressure made 69 an elusive number.
Instead of moving, it was as if the big champions and world-class players chasing Mickelson were standing around watching him. He opened up a five-stroke lead before falling back with a bogey-double bogey stretch on the back nine.
Several contenders had a chance to beat 70 but couldn’t finish it.
Playing with Fowler, Joel Dahmen shot 5 under 31 on the first nine but landed back-to-back shots on par 4 10 and made a 6. He shot 70.
âEasy to make doubles here,â said Dahmen. âMaybe it was a little anxious there maybe, trying to put me in a good position. The final stretch is difficult. I don’t care if it’s windy or not or downwind, it’s going to be tough there.
Tony Finau had 4 under 16 holes but closed with back-to-back bogeys and settled for a 70. Playing partner Patrick Cantlay had the only bogey-less round of the tournament, but only made two birdies.
Kevin Streelman had 3 cents off the 18th tee but drove him straight into a garbage bunker, leading up to bogey and – yes, another 70.
Brooks Koepka’s 69th shot of the day was a 7-foot par putt that would have kept him tied with Mickelson. He missed.
And, finally, Mickelson’s flop shot from behind the 18th green bounced right off the pin. He closed his 70 by scoring the 5-foot comebacker for par.
Large numbers prevented the others from coming down.
Bryson DeChambeau’s scores of 72, 71 and 71 would suggest consistency, and he played the last three holes tied on Saturday – with one birdie, one double bogey and another birdie.
Charley Hoffman made an impressive six birdies but dotted with five bogeys and a double. Gary Woodland made six birdies and three doubles.
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was one of the few to take a difficult step in the opposite direction. He had 5 under for the tournament before releasing five shots in a four-hole stretch. A last bogey on the 18th gave it a 42 on the back nine and a 76.
Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel shot 68, the best score of the day. But Horschel made the cut on numbers and Spieth was only one better thanks to 36 holes.
âI dispatched and had a normal 15 long putt so I can’t really say it should have been much lower. But this is a lap where I’m walking towards the 18th, man, it could have been special today, âsaid Spieth. “It was like one of those really good 6, 7 under innings that ended up being 4.”
It was still enough to make him climb 37 places to tie for 13th at par.
âIf I was 4 cents and the lead was only 7, then things might be different,â said Spieth. “But I am not.”
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