It was an eventful moving day at Southern Hills in Oklahoma with weather playing it’s part too after torrential overnight downpours softened up the course.
The headlines are being dominated by rookie Mito Pereira who has become the first player since John Daly in 1991 to hold the 54-hole lead on the PGA Championship debut and he is seeking to become the first PGA TOUR Rookie to win a major championship since Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship.
He deserves all the plaudits of course but there was plenty of other news on Saturday too, with a visibly in pain Tiger Woods withdrawing after round three where he shot 79, his highest ever score in the PGA Championship. This was on the back of shooting 69 just to make the cut. It was hard to watch as the great man ran up a 10-over par score through 13 holes on Saturday before playing his last five in 1-under par.
A week which promised much for Rory after his opening 65 seems to have turned a little sour too after a second round 71, which was followed by a 74 on Saturday that has left him languishing down the leaderboard.
Five straight pars to start on Saturday were followed by a double bogey on the par 3, 6th and then bogeys on 7 and 8 before a birdie on the 9th saw him turn in 38. That wasn’t what the doctor ordered if a challenge were to be made on the leaders.
Worse was to come though as a terrible triple bogey followed on 11 after he failed to make the green from the swale on the left and then three putted from 10 feet.
McIlroy did manage to put some respectability on the score with birdies on 13, 14 and 16 but a wayward approach on 18 followed by a three-putt put another bogey on the card and the Holywood native dropped down the leaderboard to a share of 17th on level par, nine shots adrift of leader Pereira.
Unfortunately this week has been a story of what might have for Shane Lowry too as the Offaly man carded a 71 on Saturday which included three bogeys and just two birdies and he finds himself in T36 on three-ver par.
It could have been worse for Lowry as birdies on 16 and 17 knocked him back but a birdie on 18 will have buoyed his spirits on what he admits has been a tough challenge.
“I stood up on the first and I think I had about 80 yards to the flag yesterday and I had to 210 yards this morning so that was a bit of an eye-opener straight away,” said Lowry who got the worst of the draw weather-wise.
“It’s been a grind and a battle. I’m not going to stand here and make excuses. It was quite frustrating sitting at home and watching the golf yesterday afternoon, I have to say. But it is what it is.
“You take the rough with the smooth and you kind of move on. Obviously, 80-odd guys in the field that got the bad side of the draw and I’m one of them.
It’s disappointing and hard to win a major from the bad side of the draw. But some guys up there were on my side of the draw so it wasn’t undoable.”
Lowry will now be be hoping for a good final round to propel him up the leaderboard.