Green Mile mis­ery

Kis­ner up as course bites back

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — 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 one-shot 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 the price, go­ing from be­hind a tree to flower bushes, into the rough and short of the green. The fi­nal re­sult was a quadru­ple-bo­gey 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 one birdie and wasted two good scor­ing chances on the back nine. He had a rather dull fin­ish with a par on the 18th that al­lowed him to sal­vage a 73 that left him one shot be­hind.

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 had the right for­mula. He didn’t drop a shot over the last 12 holes and shot a 69 to fin­ish 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 three-putt bo­gey on the 16th, an 8-iron into the wa­ter for dou­ble bo­gey on the 17th, and a three­p­utt 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.

Day was stymied by a pine tree, and in­stead of play­ing safe out to the fair­way as Oosthuizen had done in the group ahead of him, he tried to hook an iron around the trees and the gallery to get a clear look at

the green. But it went right into the flow­ers, and af­ter a penalty drop, Day couldn’t even get that back to the fair­way.

He came up short of the green on his way to a quadru­ple-bo­gey 8 and a 77. He left with­out speak­ing to re­porters.

Of the 15 play­ers who re­mained un­der par, Oosthuizen is the only one who has won a ma­jor, and that was seven years

ago. The South African had his own prob­lems. His right arm tight­ened up on the front nine and he re­quired a ther­a­pist to work on it. Then he hit a root on a shot with an 8-iron and bent the club, mean­ing he couldn’t use it when he needed it late in his round.

He still has a chance to add to that Bri­tish Open ti­tle at St. An­drews in 2010.

“It’s the type of golf course you don’t have to go out and make birdies. You just need to keep ev­ery­thing to­gether,” Oosthuizen said.

Kis­ner did that as well as any­one for so much of the day. He was rarely out of po­si­tion ex­cept on the par-5 sev­enth when he hung a 3-iron to the right and near the haz­ard. He caught a de­cent lie and chipped close for his first birdie. And af­ter end­ing a streak of 25 holes with­out a bo­gey, he two-putted the 14th green from 100 feet and two-putted the 15th green from 20 feet, both for birdies, to stretch his lead to two shots as play­ers be­hind him were fad­ing.

Kis­ner joined them with mis­takes of his own, set­ting up a fi­nal round on a course that is play­ing as tough as any in the ma­jors this year.

David Ling­merth (Arkansas Ra­zor­backs) shot a 71 and is 3 over go­ing into to­day’s fi­nal round.

AP/CHRIS O’MEARA

Kevin Kis­ner putts on the sec­ond hole dur­ing the third round of the PGA Cham­pi­onship on Sat­ur­day at the Quail Hol­low Club in Char­lotte, N.C. Kis­ner shot a third-round 72 and is one stroke ahead of Chris Stroud and Hideki Mat­suyama en­ter­ing to­day’s fi­nal round.

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