Something truly special will be required for either Shane Lowry or Rory McIlroy to play themselves into contention at TPC Harding Park as the lead slipped further from their grasp on moving day at the PGA Championship.
It proved another day of a frustration for the Irish pair and although Lowry could be consoled by a final hole birdie where he holed from 18-feet, his one-under par round of 69 fell short of what was needed to play his way back into contention ahead of Sunday’s final round.
At one-under par for the tournament, Lowry trails Dustin Johnson by eight, even after DJ lost his yardage book but still managed to find eight birdies on his way to the 54-hole lead at nine-under par.
The American was one of eight players who had at least a share of the lead at some point on Saturday, and heads Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ by a single stroke ahead of the final round.
For McIlroy, that lead sits nine shots better than the Holywood star whose six-year Major drought looks set to continue in San Francisco. McIlroy dropped shots in his closing two holes to fall outside the top-40 at even par to be in need of a miracle ahead of Sunday’s finale.
One possibility remains and that’s Brooks Koepka hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for the third straight year, which hasn’t happened since Walter Hagen won four in a row in the 1920s when it was match play.
Koepka was one shot behind when he made a few careless mistakes, ran off three straight bogeys and had to birdie the 18th for a 69 to stay within two shots.
Much will now depend on Johnson atop the board as he goes for his second major title. For all the chances he has had, this is only the second time he has led going into the final round.
“I’m going to have to play good golf if I want to win. It’s simple,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that tomorrow, I’m going to have a good chance coming down the stretch. … I’m just going to have to do what I did today. Just get it done.”
Among the cast of contenders are major champions like Koepka, Jason Day and Justin Rose, and new pretenders like Scheffler, Champ and Collin Morikawa. Also right there was Bryson DeChambeau, thanks to a 95-foot putt for birdie on his last hole that got him to six-under par and within three.
Tiger Woods is at two-over par.
Full scoring HERE