Kis­ner sur­vives wild finish, take PGA lead

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kevin Kis­ner sur­vived a calami­tous finish at the PGA Cham­pi­onship thanks to a good bounce off a bridge that al­lowed him to es­cape with a bo­gey and take a oneshot lead into the fi­nal round at Quail Hol­low.

Kis­ner al­ready gave up a two-shot lead with a 6-iron into the wa­ter on the 16th hole for dou­ble bo­gey. Then, he nearly did it again at the end of Quail Hol­low’s fa­bled “Green Mile.” His 7-iron went left to­ward the creek un­til it landed on the con­crete bridge, sailed high in the air and dis­ap­peared in the thick grass on the hill above the wa­ter. Kis­ner did well to chop that onto the green and two-putt from 45 feet for a 1-over 72.

Ja­son Day wasn’t so for­tu­nate, most of that his own do­ing. Day took a big risk and paid a big price, going from be­hind a tree to flower bushes, into the rough and short of the green. The fi­nal re­sult was a quadru­ple­bo­gey 8, leav­ing him seven shots be­hind.

Kis­ner had the lead going into the fi­nal round, a great spot to pur­sue his first ma­jor cham­pi­onship. He just doesn’t like what he sees in his rearview mirror, where the play­ers are a lot closer than they once ap­peared. Hideki Mat­suyama made only one birdie and wasted two good scor­ing chances on the back nine. Then again, he had a rather dull finish that al­lowed him to sal­vage a 73 and leaves him only one shot be­hind as he tries to bring Ja­pan its first ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

Chris Stroud, the last player to qual­ify for the PGA Cham­pi­onship, was briefly tied for the lead un­til he three-putted his last two holes for a 71. He was one shot be­hind and will be play­ing in the fi­nal group with Kis­ner. “I’m happy I’m in the po­si­tion I’m in,” said Kis­ner, who was at 7-un­der 206. “I had a chance to run away from guys and take peo­ple out of the tour­na­ment that were four or five, six back. And I didn’t do it. Now I’m in a dog­fight to­mor­row, and I have to be pre­pared for that.”

After the fi­nal hour of the third round Satur­day, he should be pre­pared for any­thing. Justin Thomas, the son of a PGA pro­fes­sional, had the right for­mula. He didn’t drop a shot over the last 12 shots and shot a 69 to finish just two shots be­hind along with Louis Oosthuizen, who saved par on the 18th with a bold shot for a 71.

It was ev­ery­one else in the hunt that fell apart. Rickie Fowler, qui­etly lurk­ing with four birdies in an eight-hole stretch, failed to birdie the par-5 15th - the eas­i­est hole at Quail Hol­low - and fol­lowed with a three­p­utt bo­gey on the 16th, an 8-iron into the wa­ter for dou­ble bo­gey on the 17th, and a three-putt bo­gey from just over 20 feet on the 18th. That gave him a 73, and after get­ting within three shots, he trailed by six.

Paul Casey also was in po­si­tion un­til his shot on 18 missed by a frac­tion and set­tled in the rough above the hole. His chip ran off the green, and he made dou­ble bo­gey. Casey played the fi­nal three holes in 4 over and shot 74. He was seven be­hind. The shocker was Day, the former No. 1 player in the world and a PGA cham­pion two years ago. He looked more like Jean Van de Velde, only he was stand­ing amid bushes of flow­ers in­stead of knee deep in the burn at Carnoustie.

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