Two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka seized a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship while Tiger Woods charged into contention for his first major title in 10 years.
India’s Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma, meanwhile, had a disappointing outing as both missed cuts after poor show on their respective back nine.
Sharma’s woes started from 14th as he missed a six foot putt for a bogey and ended with a double. On the very next hole, he missed a seven footer for par.
He did fight back with a birdie on 16th but he was flirting with danger. He missed an eight footer for par on 17th and then failed to get out of the bunker. From fairway bunker, he went into greenside bunker and came out with a bogey on 18th and finished with 74 and a total of 3-over 143 to miss the cut.
Earlier, Anirban Lahiri had shot 3-over 73 in second round after a first round 70. Lahiri missed a bunch of easy putts on both days and exited early from the final Major of the year.
Fourth-ranked Koepka, who had stretched the lead as large as five shots, fired a four-under par 66 to stand on 12-under 198 after 54 holes at Bellerive Country Club in the year’s final major event.
The laid-back 24-year-old American has never before led a major entering the final round but he shrugged off having 13 rivals within five strokes, even a long-awaited Woods challenge among seven major champions in that pack.
“I’m just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament,” Koepka said. “I’m extremely confident. I like the way I’m hitting the ball.”
Koepka, who became the first back-to-back US Open winner since 1989 in June at Shinnecock, birdied five of the first nine holes but stumbled with bogeys at 14 and 15 only to boost his lead with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, was second on 200 after shooting 65 on Saturday with Spain’s Jon Rahm and Americans Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland sharing third on 201.
“Brooks had a massive lead and then two holes later it was one shot,” Rahm said. “Going into the back nine within three shots on Sunday, anything is doable.”
Turning back the clock
Woods, a 14-time major champion in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery, fired a 66 to share fourth on 202 with second-ranked defending champion Justin Thomas, 2009 British Open winner Stewart Cink, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Australia’s Jason Day and South African Charl Schwartzel.
Woods birdied five of the first eight holes then closed with 10 consecutive pars and finished four off the pace of Koepka.
“I could’ve been a little bit closer but I’ve got a shot going into tomorrow,” Woods said. “I hit it good on the back nine. I just didn’t make anything. I struggled to hit it as the greens were getting slower. I just have to make the adjustments better than I did.”
The 42-year-old former world number one finished off the last 11 holes of a storm-halted second-round 66 Saturday morning, then delighted spectators with a sizzling afternoon start.
“Tiger was performing great. It was just like turning back the hands of a clock,” said Cink, who played alongside Woods.
Koepka, who missed the Masters with a left wrist injury, could become only the fifth player to win the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year, the first since Woods in 2000.