American Kevin Kisner seized the early lead in yesterday’s third round of the PGA Championship after Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama opened with a bogey at Quail Hollow.
Kisner stood on eight-under par after an opening par with Matsuyama falling one stroke back after missing a five-foot par putt at the formidable first, which saw 30 bogeys and three double bogeys yesterday without surrendering a birdie.
Australia’s Jason Day and American Chris Stroud shared third on six-under with South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner and a three-time major runner-up, in fifth on five-under and no one else less than six shots off the pace.
World number three Matsuyama, coming off a World Golf Championships victory last week at Akron, could become the first Japanese man to win a major title.
Since 1947, the only players to win the week before the PGA and take the major title as well were Tiger Woods in 2007 and Rory McIlroy in 2014.
Matsuyama, whose six top-10 finishes in 20 prior major starts include a runner-up effort in June’s US Open, would be only the second Asian man to win a major after South Korea’s Yang Yong-Eun at the 2009 PGA.
Matsuyama matched the best showing by a Japanese male golfer in a major, the 1980 US Open runner-up finish by Isao Aoki. World number 25 Kisner, a US PGA Tour winner three months ago at Colonial, needed 109 tries to claim his first tour victory in 2015 at Sea Island. The 33-year-old lives only a two-hour drive south of the course.
“I’m excited about the way I’m playing. I’m excited about being in the last group,” Kisner said before hs round. “If I hit the fairways I can make a lot of birdies.”
Seventh-ranked Day, the 2015 PGA winner and last year’s runner-up, has endured a season of struggles but could turn his campaign in a single weekend by winning another Wanamaker Trophy.
He was in the final group with Matsuyama and Kisner, who shared the 36-hole lead on eight-under 134.
American Chris Stroud, a US PGA Tour winner last week to take the last spot in the PGA field, finished off the last five holes of a second-round 68 yesterday morning after a thunderstorm delay Friday.
Stroud, 35, is ranked 203rd and playing his first major since the 2014 PGA. It’s just the ninth major of his career and only the third where he made the cut.
Only 16 players broke par in the first 36 holes at Quail Hollow and the 7,600-yard layout appeared equally formidable in early third-round scoring.
Francesco Molinari, whose second-round 64 was the best round ever for an Italian in a major, fell to two-under after opening with a double bogey and then a bogey.
Fourth-ranked McIlroy, trying to snap a three-year drought since his most recent major win at the 2014 PGA, opened with back-to-back 72s, but would need the best comeback in PGA history to take the top prize of $1.89mn (1.59mn euros).
World number two Jordan Spieth, who captured his third career major at last month’s British Open, was trying to become the youngest to complete a career Grand Slam this week. But a third day of struggles left him too far back for a realistic hope of catching the leaders.
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