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Golf: Rory McIlroy keeps lead at PGA Championship — barely

Published August 10, 2014 1:28 pm

PGA Championship • Irishman leads by 1 entering final round.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Louisville, Ky. • Rory McIlroy played the kind of golf Saturday that typically would put him in control at a major championship. Staked to a one-shot lead in the PGA Championship, he made three birdies over his last four holes for a 4-under 67.

All that did was allow him to stay in front — barely.

More rain in the morning allowed for a deluge of birdies during a third round so wild that six players had a share of the lead at some point. McIlroy could hear it. The cheers of so many birdies resounding across the back nine made him realize it was time to get it in gear.

He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 15. His approach from 172 yards landed with a splat next to the hole on the 16th for an easy birdie, and he took a one-shot lead over Bernd Wiesberger by getting up-and-down from a front bunker on the par-5 18th.

He was at 13-under 200.

McIlroy loves the view from the top — he has won all three of his majors with the lead.

"It's not the biggest lead I've ever had," said McIlroy, who led by eight, three and six shots after 54 holes in his previous major wins. "But I'm still in control of this golf tournament. It's a great place to be going into tomorrow."

Sunday is shaping up as a thriller, typical of the final major of the year.

McIlroy would have reason to feel like a driver in pole position who looks into his rearview mirror at the start of the race. Eight players were within four shots of the lead, a group that includes Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.

Wiesberger closed with three straight birdies — the three putts were a combined 3 feet, 6 inches — for a 65. Playing in only his sixth major championship, the 28-year-old Austrian now gets to play in the final group at a major with the No. 1 player in the world.

"From now on, it's just a bonus, really," Wiesberger said.

Fowler, a runner-up in the last two majors and the first player since Tiger Woods to finish among the top five in all three of them, gets one last crack. He played bogey-free for a 67 and was two shots behind.

Fowler will be playing in the penultimate group with Mickelson, the five-time major champion who turned his game around with strong finish. Right when he looked to be fading from contention, Lefty turned it on with a long birdie putt on the 14th hole, two more birdies, and then he narrowly missed an eagle putt on the final hole. He had a 67 and was three shots behind.

"That birdie putt on 14 was really the one that got me going, because I needed to finish strong to get back in it," Mickelson said.

Mickelson was at 10-under 203 with Jason Day, who played in the final group Saturday and had to settle for a 69.

The PGA Championship does not bill itself as the toughest test in golf. It assembles the best field of the majors and lets them slug it out over four days. Add a super soft course from morning showers, and cheers rained down from every corner.

The average score was 69.6, though it felt easier to former Masters champion Adam Scott, one of nine players with a 66 or better.

"Doesn't get any easier," said Scott, who was six behind. "Seems like 4 or 5 under is about even par today."

LPGA • Inbee Park made two long birdie putts on the back nine and finished with a 3-under 68 to remain a stroke ahead after the third round of the Meijer LPGA Classic in Belmont, Mich. —

Saturday's results

PGA Championship

At Valhalla Golf Club

Louisville, Ky.

Purse • $10 million

Yardage • 7,458; Par • 71

Third round

Rory McIlroy 66-67-67—200 -13

Bernd Wiesberger 68-68-65—201 -12

Rickie Fowler 69-66-67—202 -11

Phil Mickelson 69-67-67—203 -10

Jason Day 69-65-69—203 -10

Louis Oosthuizen 70-67-67—204 -9

Henrik Stenson 66-71-67—204 -9

Mikko Ilonen 67-68-69—204 -9

Ryan Palmer 65-70-69—204 -9

Jamie Donaldson 69-70-66—205 -8

Graham DeLaet 69-68-68—205 -8

Steve Stricker 69-68-68—205 -8

Hunter Mahan 70-71-65—206 -7

Adam Scott 71-69-66—206 -7

Kevin Chappell 65-74-67—206 -7

Lee Westwood 65-72-69—206 -7

Joost Luiten 68-69-69—206 -7

Jim Furyk 66-68-72—206 -7

Brandt Snedeker 73-68-66—207 -6

Danny Willett 68-73-66—207 -6

Bill Haas 71-68-68—207 -6

Victor Dubuisson 69-68-70—207 -6

Marc Warren 71-71-66—208 -5

Brooks Koepka 71-71-66—208 -5

Sergio Garcia 70-72-66—208 -5

Ryan Moore 73-68-67—208 -5

Jimmy Walker 69-71-68—208 -5

Ernie Els 70-70-68—208 -5

Alexander Levy 69-71-68—208 -5

Billy Horschel 71-68-69—208 -5

Nick Watney 69-69-70—208 -5

Justin Rose 70-72-67—209 -4

Jonas Blixt 71-70-68—209 -4

Brian Harman 71-69-69—209 -4

Charl Schwartzel 72-68-69—209 -4

J.B. Holmes 68-72-69—209 -4

Chris Wood 66-73-70—209 -4

D. Summerhays 70-72-68—210 -3

Luke Donald 70-72-68—210 -3

Kenny Perry 72-69-69—210 -3

Edoardo Molinari 66-73-71—210 -3

Branden Grace 73-70-68—211 -2

Patrick Reed 70-71-70—211 -2

Jerry Kelly 67-74-70—211 -2

Scott Brown 71-70-70—211 -2

Geoff Ogilvy 69-71-71—211 -2

Cameron Tringale 69-71-71—211 -2

Matt Jones 68-71-72—211 -2

Richard Sterne 70-69-72—211 -2

Zach Johnson 70-72-70—212 -1

Thorbjorn Olesen 71-71-70—212 -1

Ian Poulter 68-73-71—212 -1

Fabrizio Zanotti 71-70-71—212 -1

Brendon de Jonge 70-70-72—212 -1

Vijay Singh 71-68-73—212 -1

H. Matsuyama 71-72-70—213 E

Pat Perez 71-71-71—213 E

Jason Bohn 71-71-71—213 E

Koumei Oda 74-68-71—213 E

Francesco Molinari 71-71-71—213 E

Kevin Stadler 71-70-72—213 E

G. Fdez-Castano 71-70-72—213 E

Graeme McDowell 73-70-71—214 +1

Marc Leishman 71-71-72—214 +1

C. Montgomerie 70-72-72—214 +1

Brendan Steele 71-70-73—214 +1

Freddie Jacobson 72-69-73—214 +1

R. Cabrera-Bello 69-71-74—214 +1

Robert Karlsson 71-69-74—214 +1

Shawn Stefani 68-75-72—215 +2

Bubba Watson 70-72-73—215 +2

Chris Stroud 70-73-73—216 +3

Shane Lowry 68-74-74—216 +3

Brendon Todd 70-73-75—218 +5 —

PGA Championship Final round

Sunday • 9 a.m. on TNT and noon on Ch. 2