Brooks surges into Bellerive supremacy
Getting there was far from plain sailing but Brooks Koepka will cast off from pole position in the final round of the PGA Championship.
The 28-year-old, winner of back-to-back US Open titles, tops the leaderboard heading into the fourth and final round at Bellerive Country Club.
On the back nine of his third round, Koepka looked to be constructing an unassailable lead as he held a five-shot advantage but two late bogeys helped reel him back in.
Koepka’s four-under 66 has him two shots ahead of Adam Scott – runner-up at The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012 – while Gary Woodland, Jon Rahm and Ricky Fowler all stand on nine-under, with three-time Champion Golfer Tiger Woods on eight-under.
Koepka chasing greatness
Koepka stands on the precipice of something special.
Victory in Missouri would see the world number four become the first player to claim both the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year since countryman Woods in 2000.
The Florida native recorded five birdies during his front nine, as well as on the par-five 17th, and even though he ran into a patch of trouble with successive bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes, there was little raining on Koepka’s parade.
“I feel like if I do what I'm supposed to, I should win the golf tournament,” he said.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of star power and it should be, it’s a Major Championship. You should see the best players in the world come to the top and that’s what you have.
If Brooks Koepka can maintain his lead for 18 more holes, he’ll become the first player to win the PGA Championship and U.S. Open in the same year since 2000. pic.twitter.com/96nKOPuM65— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 12, 2018
“Everybody out here is so good and you look at this leaderboard and they are names that I’ve grown up watching, that everybody else loves to watch play.
“I feel like I'm extremely confident. I like the way I'm hitting the ball.
"I’m putting much better and my short game's on point this week so when all those add up, I could see why I played so well.”
Can Koepka hold his nerve?
Tiger is still in the hunt
It’s been nigh-on impossible for crowds at Bellerive not to be whipped into a frenzy by the sight of 14-time major winner Woods attempting to clinch his fifth PGA Championship title.
His five front-nine birdies sent fans into raptures but he parred his final 10 holes to record a four-under 66, which leaves him four shots off leader Koepka.
Tiger Woods posted front-nine 31s in consecutive rounds at Bellerive (2 & 3).— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 12, 2018
The last time Woods posted a 9-hole score this low came in the 2007 #PGAChamp at Southern Hills – the site of his fourth Championship victory. pic.twitter.com/gMF2cMtGg0
The 42-year-old remains confident he can have a say in the destination of this year’s title.
“For 29 holes, I made three bogeys and played pretty clean – two of those were three-putts. I played better than my score indicates,” said Woods.
“I wish my score was closer to the lead but not many guys are up there. This golf course is very gettable.
“We have to be aggressive – pars just won't be enough.”
Spieth gets into Major trouble
Jordan Spieth’s chances of clinching a career grand slam at Bellerive spectacularly went up in smoke during round three.
Disaster struck on the par-four 12th for the winner of the The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017, with the 25-year-old recording a gut-wrenching triple-bogey.
Having skewed his tee-shot right, his resultant punchout cracked straight into a tree and out of bounds.
Spieth never really recovered, taking a dropped shot and also finding the rough, and is now four-under and well outside the top 25.