Kevin Kisner has a chance to go wire-to-wire for his first major victory at the 2017 PGA Championship, but he let a host of players back into contention by stumbling through the vaunted “Green Mile” on Saturday.
Kisner had reached 10-under for the first time in the tournament when he arrived at the 16th hole – the start of the daunting three-hole closing stretch at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Kisner hit his approach shot at the 16th hole into the water, had to take a difficult drop and ultimately carded a double-bogey. After a par on No. 17, Kisner bogeyed the 18th hole to finish at 1-over 72 for the third round and stands 7-under for the tournament.
Kisner will be paired in the final round with Chris Stroud, the 203rd-ranked player in the world who shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and sits one shot off the lead along with Hideki Matsuyama.
Justin Thomas and Louis Oosthuizen, who received assistance from a physical trainer after hitting a tree root early in the round, are two shots off the lead at 5-under.
With temperatures in the 90s and the courses firming back up following rain storms on Friday, Quail Hollow regained its teeth. Only 15 players enter the final round under par, and Kisner was hardly the only one to get bitten by the Green Mile.
Jason Day didn’t have a par over his final seven holes. He had a double on No. 12, bogey on No. 13 and then reeled off three consecutive birdies, including the first leg of the Green Mile. He then bogeyed No. 17 and likely played his way out of contention with a quadruple-bogey on the 18th hole.
Rickie Fowler didn’t fair much better. After battling his way to 5-under through 15 holes, Fowler closed bogey, double-bogey, bogey and is six shots off the pace at 1-under.
It was a similar story for Jon Rahm, who worked his way onto the first page of the leaderboard as he was 5-under for the round and 2-under for the tournament through 14 holes. Then came a 5-over finish over the final four holes – including a pair of doubles through the Green Mile – and the Spaniard found himself 3-over and in a tie for 37th at the end of the day.
One of the few players to work his way back into contention on the back nine at Quail Hollow was Canadian Graham DeLaet. After a double-bogey on No. 11, he almost holed out on consecutive holes and carded a pair of eagles in going 6-under from No. 13-16. He finished with a 3-under round of 68 and is in a tie for seventh entering Sunday.
Other than Matsuyama, none of the top five golfers in the world rankings enters Sunday with a legitimate chance to catch Kisner. No. 1 Dustin Johnson (4-over for the tournament) shot a 1-over 73 on Saturday, No. 2 Jordan Spieth (3-over) carded an even-par 71 with a double-bogey on 18, and Rory McIlroy (4-over) shot a 2-over 73 that included five bogeys and three birdies.