ralia's Jason Day will spot a three-shot lead to the almost-unstoppable Rory McIlroy on the final day of the United States PGA Championship, despite holding a share of the lead several times in the third round.
Deep into the so-called ''moving day'', Day was tied at the top of the leaderboard at 10-under par, and he was in the bunch at the top through 14 holes. But at a two-shot swing at the par-four 16th hole was costly for the 26-year-old, who has knocked the door down of the majors for three years now without winning one of the big four tournaments.
Day, just a shot back from McIlroy, drove into deep rough and could not reach the green with his second shot. A pitch to four metres and a missed putt left him dropping a shot; meanwhile McIlroy was monstering the 460-metre par four, driving more than 300 metres and then hitting a peerless nine-iron shot to within a few centimetres of the cup. McIlroy tapped in for birdie, and his play on that hole is instructive of why he is the No. 1 player in the world right now. Driver-nine iron to a 460 metre par-four? It is ridiculous.
Day had an up-and-down afternoon at Valhalla. He made one of the great pars at the par-four second hole after driving so far left that his ball was beyond the water hazard that tracks the left of the fairway. The Queenslander and his caddie Col Swatton ditched their shoes and socks to find the ball, and Swattan tossed an iron to his player once they found the ball. In the end, Day nailed a putt to save par.
But not much went for the Australian across the day. He birdied the fourth and fifth to take a share of the lead then gave it back with a bogey at the sixth. At the 13th he birdied to regain a share of the lead before his problem at the 16th. Still, he is in contention in another major despite a stop-star season that has been interrupted by a wrist injury and some vertigo at the Bridgestone Invitational last week. A two-metre birdie putt after finding the front bunker at the par-five 18th gave him a two-under 69.
McIlroy, similarly, was not at his best until he birdied three of the last four holes, including an up-and-down from the front bunker at the par-five 18th to card a four-under 67. He is in a good position to win his fourth major championship, and his second on the trot after taking the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
But a host of players have a chance tomorrow, eight players within four shots of his lead at 13-under. They include unheralded Austrian Berndt Wiesberger, who will play in the final group tomorrow after a scintillating 65 left him just a shot back from the lead.
World No. 2 Adam Scott is too far back despite a third-round 66 that left him just outside the top 10. "(It is) just how it is,'' Scott told the media after his round. "I mean, you can't hit it good every week of the year. I do a good job generally of playing well at big events. It's not going to happen every week for me. I'm just doing the best I can with maybe not my best game, but trying hard to get something to happen.''
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP SCORES
-13 Rory McIlroy
-12 Bernd Wiesberger
-11 Rickie Fowler
-10 JASON DAY, Phil Mickelson
-9 Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Mikko Ilonen, Ryan Palmer
-7 Adam Scott
-2 Geoff Ogilvy, Matt Jones
+1 Marc Leishman