In what can only be described as a wild third round at Harding Park, Dustin Johnson vaulted atop the leaderboard shooting a 65, taking a one-shot lead into Sunday at the PGA Championship over young stars Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ. Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, rookie Collin Morikawa and veteran Paul Casey are two shots back at -7. Three shots back include Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Daniel Berger, and Tommy Fleetwood.
Five Takeaways from Round 3
DJ’s Shot at Redemption
Dustin Johnson had one of the worst breaks of any golfer in 2010 when he grounded his club out of a waste area on the 18th at Whistling Straits that was deemed a bunker, penalizing him two shots and costing him a chance at joining a playoff and winning his first major. A year ago, he hunted down Brooks Koepka from five shots down on the back 9 only to crumble on 16 and 17 and finish runner-up to the defending champ. Oh yes, there’s been other major championship misfortunes. Let’s not forget the three-putt from 15-feet at the 2015 U.S. Open on the bumpy greens at Chambers Bay. Or the out-of-bounds three iron at Royal St. George’s in 2011.
Yes, Johnson has a U.S. Open in his pocket, but he is too good a player to have just one major. A lot of expectations are on the future Hall of Fame golfer as he goes into tomorrow. Many say he deserves a PGA Championship, but it’s not handed to you. He will need to close it out tomorrow. He has navigated his way around Harding Park to near perfection, taking advantage of the holes he’s needed to and putting better than he ever has. He is undoubtedly the man to beat tomorrow.
Koepka is Down…But Not Out
It looked like Brooks Koepka’s shot at a third straight PGA Championship washed away in the Pacific Ocean after a horrible three-hole stretch on the back 9. He stood on the 13th hole tied for the lead at -8 and then succumbed to three poor approach shots, resulting in three straight bogeys, sending him down the leaderboard and then four shots back of Johnson.
But Koepka wouldn’t give up his chance at history that easily. After a great drive and birdie on the short par-4 16th, he delivered an exquisite iron into the 18th within five feet and then made the birdie putt to pull him to -7, just two back of Johnson.
Now That Was Fun
You want entertainment? You got it. The third round was a perfect display of why golf’s ratings are better than the NBA’s right now. To put it best, it was as fun a round from a spectator’s perspective as you’ll ever get. You got everything you could want and more. At one point, there were 17 guys within two shots of the lead. Five guys sat atop the leaderboard midway through the day. You had major champions, you had guys who had been around, and then there were those who you never heard from in your life.
As you would expect in the end, things separated a bit with Dustin Johnson breaking through the pack, but it’s still quite crowded. There are more than a handful of players who could win this thing. Grab your popcorn and soda (or another beverage) tomorrow. There’s still plenty more fireworks to come.
Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Rose may be veterans, but there is plenty of young talent to go around near the top. Cameron Champ is 25 and is the one player who can take Bryon DeChambeau and Bubba Watson to school in a long driving contest. Scottie Scheffler is 24 and was the Korn Ferry Player of the Year last year. Most are familiar now with Collin Morikawa, the 23-year old rookie who has already won twice on Tour. Throw in 23-year old Matthew Wolff who is only a few shots off the lead going into Sunday.
Then there’s 25-year old Haotong Li who was handling the pressure quite well for most of the day on Saturday. But after catching an incredible break on 12 that resulted in a birdie and giving him the lead all by himself, he hit a trainwreck on 13. His tee shot landed out of bounds, and from there, the problems only piled up leading to a 73. He still is within four shots of Johnson going into Sunday.
Tiger’s chances of a 16th major championship sunk along with his putter on Saturday. Just like Friday, Tiger’s putter was ice cold and eventually it began to affect the rest of his game. He looked frustrated and dejected, and after birdie putts continued to slide by the hole, he began to leak oil with his driver. A 73 leaves Tiger 12 shots out and going through the motions on Sunday.