Wild fin­ish to 3rd round un­able to wreck Kis­ner

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C.» Kevin Kis­ner sur­vived a calami­tous fin­ish to his third round at the 99th 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 Sat­ur­day with a shot into the wa­ter on the 16th hole. He nearly did it again on the 18th un­til the ball hit the con­crete bridge, sailed high in the air and dis­ap­peared in thick grass on the hill above a creek. He did well to chop that out onto the green and two-putt from 45 feet for a 1-over-par 72.

He wasn’t alone in his strug­gles at the end of a long day of op­pres­sive heat.

Chris Stroud, the last player to qual­ify for the PGA Cham­pi­onship with a play­off vic­tory last week in Nevada, three-putted for a bo­gey on his fi­nal two holes for an even-par 71 and will play in the fi­nal group with Kis­ner. Also one shot be­hind was Ja­pan’s Hideki Mat­suyama, who had a 2-over 73.

Ja­son Day was right there with them un­til a pe­cu­liar de­ci­sion likely cost him a rea­son­able chance. Stuck be­hind a tree right of the 18th fair­way, Day chose not to pitch out to the fair­way and tried hook­ing it around the tree and the gallery to the right. The club clanged off the pine and the ball went into the bushes. He took a penalty drop, found the rough, came up short of the green and ended with a quadru­ple-bo­gey 8 for a 6-over 77. He goes into Sun­day seven shots be­hind Kis­ner.

Rickie Fowler got within three shots of the lead un­til a three-putt bo­gey on the 16th hole, a tee shot into the wa­ter on the 17th for a dou­ble bo­gey and a three-putt bo­gey on the last hole. That sent him six shots be­hind.

Through all that chaos, Mat­suyama kept alive his chances to bring Ja­pan its first ma­jor ti­tle.

Mat­suyama made his share of mis­takes, and while he failed to con­vert two good birdie chances, he played the last five holes in bo­gey-free golf for a 73.

Kis­ner was at 7-un­der 206 over­all as he goes af­ter his first ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

Of the 15 play­ers who re­mained un­der par, Louis Oosthuizen is the only one who has won a ma­jor, and that was seven years ago. Oosthuizen saved par from a sim­i­lar spot Day was in on the 18th hole and shot a 71. He was at 5-un­der 208, along with Justin Thomas, the son of a PGA pro­fes­sional who played bo­gey-free golf over his last 12 holes and posted a 2-un­der 69.

Stu­art Franklin, Getty Im­ages

Kevin Kis­ner, play­ing Sat­ur­day at the 99th PGA Cham­pi­onship, was a co-leader af­ter the first round Thurs­day and af­ter the sec­ond round Fri­day. Now he has sole pos­ses­sion of a one-stroke lead en­ter­ing the fi­nal round Sun­day.

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