SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) With six straight 3s on his card, Jason Day looked determined as ever Saturday to finally get that first major. He had a 6-under 66 and built a two-shot lead in the PGA Championship, the third straight major he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round.
One look at the leaderboard at the name right behind him – Jordan Spieth – made it clear it won’t be easy. Spieth was five shots behind and had two holes to play when he capped off a stunning charge along the back nine at Whistling Straits with six birdies over his last eight holes, including three in a row at the end that gave him a 7-under 65 to get into the final group.
The 22-year-old Texan is trying to join Tiger Woods (2000) and Ben Hogan (1953) as the only players to win three majors in one year, and Spieth hopes to rely on his experience of having already won the Masters and U.S. Open this year.
Day showed plenty of moxie, though.
After making a double bogey that cut his lead to one shot, and then failing to birdie the par-5 16th, he poured in a 25-foot birdie putt and pumped both arms to show how much it meant.
Day played a six-hole stretch around the turn in 6 under, which included a 15-foot eagle at No. 11 for his first lead of the round. When the Australian stuffed another approach close on the 14th hole for birdie, he was 16 under.
One swing changed everything.
He tugged a 5-iron into a bunker left of the 15th green and was surprised by the amount of sand. The first shot didn’t make it up the slope and rolled back into the sand, and Day wound up with a double bogey right about the time Spieth shifted into another gear.
Day did his part, even after failing to make birdie on the par-5 16th. Instead of getting down, he hit 4-iron into 25 feet on the 17th hole and rolled in the birdie.
He was at 15-under 201.
This was hardly a two-man race. Branden Grace of South Africa, tied for the lead with three holes to play in the U.S. Open when he hit a tee shot out-of-bounds onto the train tracks at Chambers Bay, holed a bunker shot for birdie on the 18th hole for a 64 to finish three shots behind.
CAMBIA PORTLAND CLASSIC
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Canadian teen Brooke Henderson opened a five-stroke lead in the Cambia Portland Classic, shooting a 7-under 65 at Columbia Edgewater.
The 17-year-old Henderson is trying to join Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only players to win an LPGA Tour title before turning 18.
Henderson tied the tournament 54-hole record of 18-under 198 set by Yani Tseng in 2013.
Morgan Pressel was second after a 65.
Henderson also had the 54-hole lead in April in California in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. She closed with a 74 and ended up finishing third.
A win Sunday would assure Henderson of finishing among the tour’s top 40 on the money list, giving her an LPGA Tour card for next season. Through nine LPGA Tour tournaments, Henderson has banked $466,818.
LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan denied Henderson’s age petition last year, preventing her from playing Q-school. She earned a spot in the Portland Classic field in Monday qualifying.
Henderson is attempting to become the second Monday qualifier to win an LPGA Tour tournament. The only player to accomplish the feat was Laurel Keen in 2000.
U.S. WOMEN’S AMATEUR
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Hannah O’Sullivan and Sierra Brooks beat fellow teenagers to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur final.
The 17-year-old O’Sullivan, from Chandler, Arizona, rallied to beat 17-year-old Mathilda Cappeliez of France, 1 up at Portland Golf Club, and the 17-year-old Brooks, from Sorrento, Florida, topped 18-year-old UCLA freshman Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, California.
O’Sullivan, 10th in the world amateur ranking, won the Symetra Tour’s Gateway Classic in February at 16 to become the youngest winner in the history of the professional circuit. In May, she teamed with Robynn Ree to finish second in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes.
O’Sullivan and Brooks earned exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open.