US PGA Championship 2020: third round – live!
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That double bogey has truly taken the wind out of poor Grillo’s sail. It wasn’t so long ago he nearly made a fifth birdie in a row; now on 10 he’s barely able to advance his ball 30 yards up the hole having found thick, lush rough. He should escape with a par, lashing his third into the heart of the green, but this is a hole that’s been giving birdies away like confetti. Ho hum, the vagaries of golf.
Tiger scrambles another par after being out of position all the way up 15. His putter has seriously let him down during most of his round today, but without it on the last two holes, where he’s made two big par saves, he’d have carded five bogeys in a row. Answers on a postcard if anybody knows the last time Tiger did that, if indeed he’s ever done it at all.
Joel Dahmen made a rare old mess of 9 in the gloaming last night. A triple-bogey seven dropped him out of a tie for third to a tie for 17th. So he’ll be pleased with a belated bounceback birdie at 1. He’s -4, as is his partner Brendan Steele, who also birdies the hole. Meanwhile Bryson DeChambeau picks up his first stroke of the day at 3, and he’s -3. And they’re flying in at the minute, Rory McIlroy getting his reward for stroking a gorgeous 5-iron straight at the flag on 8. He’s -2, and steadfastly refusing to go away, despite some very inconsistent play all week.
The 2018 Masters champ Patrick Reed drops one at 2, the result of finding a fairway bunker with his tee shot. He’s -1. His partner Bryson DeChambeau makes another par to remain at -2. Meanwhile birdie for Collin Morikawa at 3, a straight 30-footer calmly rolled across the dancefloor; he’s -3.
Tiger allows himself a wide, wry smile as he escapes 14 with a par. The hole was his round in microcosm, alternating between the good and the terrible: an awful drive into thick cabbage, a stunning iron whipped into the green that was so unfortunate to topple off the back, a flubbed chip, and a staunch par saver. For once you can’t blame the flat stick.
A birdie for Jon Rahm at the par-five 4th. That’s his second of the day, after screeching his approach at 1 to kick-in distance. Suddenly one of the pre-tournament favourites is -3. But retaining momentum after a good start has proven a problem for most today. First Justin Thomas, now Emiliano Grillo, whose tee shot at the long par-three 8th is bunkered. He makes a mess of getting out, and soon enough he’s rattled up a double-bogey five. He slips back to -2.
Patrick Cantlay, who you may recall leading last year’s Masters on Sunday afternoon for 0.8723645872 seconds, rolls in a 20-footer on 18 for his fourth birdie of a flawless day. He signs for a 66 and becomes the new clubhouse leader at -3.
Tiger makes his third bogey in a row, three-putting from the edge of the 13th. He’s +4 and don’t be surprised to see the old flat stick back out tomorrow. Back on 6, McIlroy follows birdie with bogey, the result of an over-zealous tee shot. He’s -1 again. And it’s pars for DeChambeau and Reed on 1, the former getting down in impressive style from a tight spot behind the green. They’re both -2.
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are out. What a pairing this is. One that’ll irritate all the right bores. Both blooter big drives down the track, like that’s going to be breaking news. Elsewhere, Emiliano Grillo’s run of birdies comes to an end, though only after he passes up a very makeable putt on the short par-four 7th. An irritating way to return to terra firma.
Another birdie for Grillo! His fourth in a row, at 6, and he reaches the heights of -4. Rory finally makes one, from the edge of 5, and he moves to -2. Maybe I spoke too soon. But up on 12, Tiger bogeys again after a litany of errors: a drive into thick rough, a hot 5-wood through the back, a lob that bounds through the green, and a chip left timidly short. He’s +3 and ticking.
Thomas can only find the front of the massive 18th green with a gouge out of deep rough down the left. His putt, the best part of 100 feet, passes the hole and nearly exits the green on the other side. He can’t make the one coming back, and it’s a final-hole bogey. That’s a 68, and it’s not enough, as he ends the third round at -1. Given he was five under through the first seven holes, it’s a round of missed opportunity, and he trudges off in irritation. Golf being golf, his partner and pal Spieth, who had a complete nightmare, birdies the hole after whistling one of the approaches of the week to six feet. He ends with a 76, currently propping the entire field up at +7.
Tiger shoves a short one wide at the par-three 11th. A second bogey of the day, and his shoulders slump as he takes his leave of the dancefloor. He’s +2, and number 16 won’t be coming along this week. Number five for Rory doesn’t look on the cards either, as a birdie opportunity slips by after some sloppy work around the par-five 4th green. He remains -1, not out of it numerically by any means, but his A-game simply isn’t there right now.
A 68 for Charl Schwartzel. At -1, he’s the very early clubhouse leader on day three. Meanwhile three birdies in a row for Emiliano Grillo, at 3, 4 and now 5. The 27-year old Argentinian looked ready to break through in 2016, with high finishes at the Masters, Open and PGA, but it hasn’t quite worked out for him since then. He’s had a couple of top-three finishes on Tour this season, though, plus another in the top ten, and he’s working his way back into form. He’s -3.
Tiger’s putting is getting worse. He misjudges both length and line of a fairly straight 15-foot birdie putt on the gimme-birdie 10th. It’s four feet past and way wide right. That’s flat-out awful and, turning away distressed and disgusted, he makes a dismissive gesture at the hole not totally dissimilar to the one Sheena Easton waves Prince off with in the video for U Got the Look. He does pretty well to knock in the one coming back for his par. He’s still +1.
The wind is picking up, the greens get ever firmer. All good news for the leaders, even if they’ll have to deal with the conditions later, because nobody is making any sort of move from the pack. Thomas can’t get up and down from a greenside bunker at 16, and he slips back to -2. Of the early starters, Henley is the only player currently as high as -3.
A brisk start from Russell Henley, a player of much promise still seeking that first top-ten finish at a major. Birdies at 3, 5 and now 7 have elevated the 31-year-old from Georgia to -3. Other than Justin Thomas, who is four under for his round today through 15 holes, Henley’s the most notable performer out there at the moment.
Par for Tiger on 9, and he turns in 36. Great frustration as another birdie putt fails to drop, though he’s not giving himself too many really good chances – this one was from 30 feet or so – and he’s certainly not been holing many from outside five feet (though the lack of decent chances will affect that, to be fair). Meanwhile another par for McIlroy, at 2, and he stays at -1.
McIlroy finds the green with his second and leaves the opening hole with a par. Spieth meanwhile can only flop to 20 feet – a decent enough shot, it was the approach that killed him – and it’s another bogey. He’s now +7, and propping up what’s left of the field after the cut, 79th out of 79.
Tiger’s run of pars ends … but not in the manner he’d have wished. He leaves a 30-yard putt well short on 8, and can’t tidy up. Careless, and he’s +1. This new putter of his doesn’t seem to be working its magic any longer.
From the middle of the 14th fairway, Spieth tugs an awful approach onto a thickly matted bank to the left of the green. “Aw God!” he cries, before assuming a pose very familiar to hackers worldwide: one hand in pocket, the other leaning on his club, head slightly bowed. Then the embrace of gallows humour, as he smiles and gives his friend JT the big thumbs up. On Sky, Paul McGinley speaks for everyone who has ever picked up a club. “We’ve all been there, in that space in the mind. when the game leaves you. No matter what level you play at, it hurts like hell.” Preach on, brother.
Speaking of players missing one slam, here’s Rory McIlroy! The 2012 and 2014 champ went on a birdie blitz before giving everything back on one hole yesterday evening, with that triple-bogey seven at 12. He could do with launching another salvo now. He needs to, if he’s to have any chance of winning this tournament. His opening drive isn’t the best, isn’t the worst; he’s in the rough down the left, but with a shot in.
Tiger dribbles a gorgeous left-to-right curler towards the cup, but it horseshoes out. So unlucky not to break this extremely frustrating run of pars. He’s stuck on level par. Meanwhile Thomas scrambles another par after finding himself out of position, this time on 13, to remain at -3. Incidentally, JT’s playing partner today, and good friend, Jordan Spieth, is having another nightmare. He shot a fine 68 yesterday to evade the cut, but he must be wondering why he bothered as he returns to recent-form type. Out in 38, he’s subsequently bogeyed 11 and now 13, and has crashed all the way down to +6. The career slam isn’t as easy to complete as Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger made it look.
It continues not to happen for the big man. Tiger blocks his drive into thick cabbage to the right of the short par-four 7th. He’s shortsided, too, with a bunker in the way. He does extremely well to lash a flop over the flag to 30 feet, but another hole is about to go by without an advance, unless he can pull a big birdie putt out of the bag here.
Schwartzel isn’t the only major-winning South African to be heading in the wrong direction. Oosthuizen cards bogeys at 12 and 13 to slip back to level par for the tournament. His last seven holes have garnered one par, two birdies, an eagle, two bogeys and a double. It’s not exactly Faldo ‘87 is it.
Thomas only just finds the 12th with his second, and is extremely happy to stride off the green with a two-putt par. Another bogey for Schwartzel, meanwhile, this time at 13, and he’s back to level par in short order.
Tiger makes his par on 5, but he’s having to battle just to stand still today. His tee shot at 6 sails off into the second cut down the right. He manages to find the green with his approach, but only just, and he’ll have two putts from 70 feet for yet another par.
Eagle for Lefty at the short par-four 7th! His tee shot, a 3-wood, only just fails to reach the putting surface. (Only one player has achieved that with their tee shot so far this week in 105 attempts: Luke List.) No matter! He drives a low, hard chip straight at the flagstick. The ball clatters into it and drops. He’s level par for the championship. He’s going round today with Ian Poulter, who makes his fourth birdie in five holes to move to -1.
Thomas pulls his putt at 11. A par, only his third of the round and his first since the 3rd. He stays at -3. Meanwhile Schwartzel drops back to -1 after bogey at 12. And Tiger is up against it on 5, having found thick rough down the left with is tee shot and come up short with his subsequent wedge. A poor bump and run leaves him with a 12-footer to save his par. Crucial putt coming up.
If you’ve just carded back-to-back bogeys, the 10th is a sight for sore eyes. The easiest hole on the course this week, a par-five that’s been spewing birdies from the get-go. Justin Thomas fills his boots to move back to -3, before sticking his tee shot at the par-three 11th to six feet. A fine response to his mid-round judder, though a big putt in the context of his championship coming up.
Nothing’s happening for Tiger. He sent a lovely drive down the middle of the par-five 4th, but sent his second into deep rough to the right of the green. He flopped to 20 feet, but the birdie putt stayed up on the right, and his frustration grows.
Hot golf from the 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen at 10 and 11: eagle and birdie! They scoot him up the standings to -2, alongside the aforementioned Thomas and Schwartzel; all three are three under for their round so far, and are the hottest properties currently out on the course.
An eventful start for Hertfordshire’s finest, Ian Poulter. Two bogeys to begin, but he’s responded with three birdies on the bounce, and he’s level par for the tournament right now. Meanwhile Shane Lowry, who was in contention before a miserable collapse around the turn last night, dropping five shots in six holes, makes an early advance this morning, caressing his second at 2 from 170 yards to a couple of feet. Birdie, and the Open champion is -1.
It’s too much to ask. Thomas faces a chip back up from the best part of 40 yards. He sends it sailing 20 feet past the hole, and the putt coming back is always staying high on the left. Back-to-back bogeys, and while he’s hitting the turn in a very impressive 32 strokes, he won’t be feeling too good about it right now. He’s -2. Meanwhile another birdie putt for Tiger, this time at 3. He doesn’t leave this one, from 27 feet, short. It rolls three feet past. So that’s three straight pars for Tiger. Not the fast start he’d have been hoping for. He remains level par.
A big sigh from Tiger as he leaves a straight uphill birdie putt on 2 a couple of feet short. He remains at level par. Meanwhile Thomas’s charge continues to sputter: his drive at the long, testing par-four 9th leaks off to the right, and he can’t get any spin on his approach. The ball bounds through the back and down a swale. If the up and down for par he faced on 8 was tricky, this one will really ask some questions.
Thomas is one of the best chippers in the world, so it’s an eyebrow-raiser to see him leave his effort from the back of 8 a good 12 feet short. A tricky downhill chip, but even so, by his stellar standards that is surprisingly poor. His par saver is always going to miss on the right, and a run of four consecutive birdies ends with one step back. That was a real clunker. He’s -3. His tee shot had skipped over the bunker at the front before ending up on the collar at the back; in retrospect he probably wishes he’d found the trap for an easier up-and-down.
Back on 1, Tiger whipped his second onto the front of the green, before taking two putts for a relatively uneventful par. The antics of Thomas won’t have gone unnoticed. Tiger will surely roll the dice today.
Charl Schwartzel is also proving that there are birdies out here this morning, if only you want them. The 2011 Masters champion hits the turn in 32, after making birdie at 1, 7 and now 9, the latter having holed out from a very deep greenside bunker. He’s -2.
The big news this morning is the birdie blitz of Justin Thomas. The world number one avoided the cut last night by the skin of his glove, and he’s playing this morning like a man free of worries: birdies at 2, 4, 5, 6 and now 7! All of a sudden he’s -4, having more than halved his deficit on the leader Li in short order. That run may come to an end at the long, difficult par-three 8th, as he’s just off the back with his tee shot, but this is some start from last weekend’s WGC winner.
Good morning San Francisco! Here we go, then, the start of Moving Day. Well, not quite, the very early pairings have been our for a wee while already. More of them in due course. But we arrive just in time to see Tiger Woods take his opening tee shot. He sends his drive into the rough down the left, an inauspicious beginning. Tiger begins the third round at level par, eight shots off Li Haotong’s 36-hole lead. History proves he’s not quite out of it yet: Bob Rosburg won from nine shots back at this stage in 1959, as did Bob Tway in 1986, much to poor old Greg Norman’s chagrin. Tiger’s task – an eight-shot comeback – has been completed by Don January in 1967 and Dave Stockton in 1976. Nothing’s impossible, then … but then we’ve known this about Tiger for some time now.
Here’s what happened yesterday …