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Give the third round of the 99th PGA Championship to the Quail Hollow Club golf course.
After Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama won the battle in the first two rounds of the tournament, the golf course frustrated the game’s best players on moving day. Four of the top five golfers on the leaderboard were unable to break par, and that’s a big reason Kisner remains in front even though he shot a one-over par 72.
Kisner is seven-under for the tournament, while Matsuyama shot a two-over 73 and is one stroke behind Kisner at six under par. Neither golfer was able to establish any momentum at any point in the third round. Kisner had back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes, but he followed with a double bogey on 16.
Putting was a significant challenge for the field because of the hard greens and the difficult reads, and Kisner and Matsuyama both had trouble converting putts that were dropping on Thursday and Friday.
Chris Stroud held his own at the Charlotte, North Carolina, golf course. He shot an even par 71, and he is one stroke behind Kisner. Since he finished his round before Matsuyama’s round came to a conclusion, Stroud will be in the final pairing with Kisner in Sunday’s final round.
Matsuyama will play with Justin Thomas in the penultimate pairing, and Thomas was the only golfer among the top five to break par. He shot a two-under 69, and he is five under par going into the final round.
Kisner said he was stymied by his inability to putt.
“I played nice today, I just didn’t score the way I should have,” Kisner told CBS interviewer Amanda Balionis after the round. “I didn’t make the putts I had been making the first two days and I had a terrible finish on 18. I didn’t know where I should leave that ball, and I’m kicking myself for that one.”
Kisner was fortunate to bogey the 18th hole after nearly hitting the ball in the water and getting a decent bounce.
Jason Day would have been thrilled to come away with a bogey on the final hole, but a strange decision to play a snap hook on his second shot while standing behind a tree led to a quadruple bogey.
Day was four under par when he went to the tee box on the final hole, and he ended the round even par for the tournament.
Day won the PGA Championship two years ago, and after three consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th, he collapsed.
Day is normally one of the most cooperative players with the media, but he left the course immediately after his round without speaking to reporters.
Louis Oosthuizen had an up-and-down round of even par 71, and he is also in contention at five under par. He will play with Grayson Murray in the final round as he attempts to make a run at the Wanamaker Trophy. Murray is three under par after shooting an impressive two-under 69.
The final round will get underway at 8:05 a.m. ET, and here’s a look at the tee times for the field.
Tee times for the leaders in the final round of the PGA Championship (all times ET)
Scott Brown and Gary Woodland, 2:05 p.m.
Patrick Reed and Graham DeLaet, 2:15 p.m.
Grayson Murray and Louis Oosthuizen, 2:25 p.m.
Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama, 2:35 p.m.
Kevin Kisner and Chris Stroud, 2:45 p.m.
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
After the leaders managed to tame Quail Hollow in the first two rounds, the golf course bit back on moving day and seemed to wear down the majority of the field.
The course is likely to have more difficult pin placements during the final round, and that will cause additional problems for the golfers.
Kisner kept his mistakes to a minimum and he will sleep on the lead. That should put him in a good state of mind for the final round.
However, the key to the final round will be the final three holes, know as “The Green Mile.” Kisner was lucky to bogey that hole Saturday, and he will need to limit his mistakes on those closing three holes.
Stroud is a wonderful story, as he was the last golfer to earn an invitation to the tournament and will be playing in the final pairing. The pressure is likely to be too much for him.
Oosthuizen has the consistent swing and the calm demeanor to play his best golf on Sunday. He is two strokes behind and that should not be an issue for him.
Look for Oosthuizen to maintain his cool throughout, make excellent decisions and find a way to win the Wanamaker Trophy.