Golf

Unknowns outplaying tour stars

Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner tied for fifth in last year's PGA Championship.
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Robert Lusetich

After more than 20 years of covering everything from election campaigns to the Olympic Games, Robert Lusetich turned his focus to writing about his first love: golf. He is author of Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season. Follow him on Twitter.

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JOHNS CREEK, GA.

Tiger Woods is unpacking boxes at his new $55 million pad in Florida and the 93rd PGA Championship turns into the Greater Atlanta Clambake?

While many of golf’s big names melted in the stifling Atlanta heat on Saturday, the leaderboard at the year’s final major is topped by a trio of relative unknowns.

Phil Mickelson made four birdies in a six-hole stretch to propel himself toward a fifth major, then spoiled it all with two late bogeys. He was so annoyed, the normally accommodating left-hander blew off the media after his round.

Adam Scott got to 3 under par and stuffed an iron to 3 feet on the ninth, then proceeded to three-putt and never found his way back. He’ll have to overcome a five-shot deficit on Sunday if caddie Steve Williams is to really agitate Woods with major No. 14.

Jim Furyk hit not one, but two balls into the water on 18, his second double bogey on the treacherous closing four holes at Atlanta Athletic Club, to drop back to 1 under par, six off the lead.

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Lee Westwood missed at least a half-dozen straightforward putts to fall six shots back with an even-par third round. When asked what he could do to fix his stroke, the Englishman shrugged.

“I don’t know, different religion maybe? I’ve tried everything else, it seems.”

But while they fell away, three lesser lights stepped onto center stage.

Brendan Steele’s a 28-year-old from California who’s playing in his first major. He’s missed half his cuts in his rookie season, but he’s also won, at the Valero Texas Open.

After playing poorly last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, Steele tweeted that “if everything was like today, I would never play golf again.”

“Well, that’s how fickle this game is,” he said Saturday.

“At Firestone, was just hitting it terribly, the worst I’ve hit it in recent memory, and it kind of carried over into the start of this week,” he said.

Steele played nine holes here with his old friend Scott Piercy, who gave him a simple swing tip and the rest, as they say, is history.

Keegan Bradley is Steele’s best friend in golf. He’s also playing his first major and, like Steele, the rookie’s won this year, at the Byron Nelson.

Jason Dufner’s a veritable veteran in comparison, playing in his 10th major.

He doesn‘t really have much in the way of good memories to draw on Sunday, though, having never won on the PGA Tour. He’s only had one good finish at a major before, at last year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, where he tied for fifth.

Welcome to golf’s new order.

The world of parity.
 

Tagged: Brendan Steele

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