The third round of the year’s final major had a final grouping with an international flavor teeing off at approximately 2:05 PM on Saturday to battle it out at North Carolina’s vaunted Quail Hollow Club. It is the 99th PGA Championship. American Kevin Kisner, along with Australia’s Jason Day, and Japan’s Hedeki Matsuyama rounded out the final 3-man grouping. Day began the day at -6 and Kisner and Matsuyama where the co-leaders at -8 heading into the third round.
The PGA Championship is unique in that it gives opportunities that may not otherwise have been available for Club Professionals and range pros alike. Perhaps the greatest underdog story of the modern golf era had a ninth alternate. Yes, you read that right. This happened John Daly winning this event 26 years ago.
At the turn it was a another relatively unknown creeping up the leader board as Chris Stroud reached -8 to join Matsuyama in second place behind Kisner who held on to his lead while going 1 under on the front. Kisner was -9 heading to the back nine.
Stroud went out in 2 under with three birdies and one bogie to replace Day in the lead pack due to Day shooting +1 on the front. That pack of leaders had a little separation early in the day as the likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Ricky Fowler went to -5 and -4 respectively.
The back nine remained full of quality golf on a very difficult track. Quail Hollow has proven to be a worthy adversary through thee rounds as the scores did not trend lower. Stroud, who featured a Canary Yellow shirt, suffered his second bogie of the round on hole #12, that blemish bounced him back to -7 and second place; leaving Kisner alone as the leader. Kisner bogied #13, but retained a 1 stroke lead, while Day double bogied and the course began to take a toll heading down the back stretch of holes.
Leaderboard reset after the final grouping was through 13 holes:
Kevin Kisner -8
Chris Stroud -7
Hideki Matsuyama -6
Ricky Fowler -5
Louis Oosthuizen -4
On # 14 Stroud buried a 5 footer coming off of a fantastic short iron to tie for the lead at -8 with Kisner.
Day & Fowler had water-balls to deal with on the next few holes with Day having to lose one shoe and a sock before hitting a very solid recovery shot, but he fell off the pace on the back nine as he went to -3. Fowler also lost a stoke with a bogie on #16.
Late round hustle from Grayson Murray left him to finish the day at -4, but there were very few strong runs late in the day as the lead pack made their way home.
Kisner was stress-free with a tap-in birdie on hole #15 that pushed him to -10. He was the first man to double digits under par and it came late in the third round at Quail Hollow Club. Fowler on the other hand, rocked an iron into the water for the second time on the back nine, that miscue had him fade from the pack on # 17 with a double bogey.
In case you are wondering, Jordan Spieth finished at +2 and it appears that his chance at history of a career Grand Slam will have to wait.
Kisner did create some stress with a ball in the water on #16, letting the likes of Justin Thomas to creep back in what could be this years most exciting major.
At days end Kisner was atop the leaderboard at -7, followed by Matsuyama -6, Stroud -6, Thomas -5, and Oosthuizen at -5.