We’ve got just one day of major season left in 2017, and our list of potential challengers has narrowed from 156 to just a handful. As you prepare for the last day of the PGA Championship, here’s what you need to know. Enjoy Sunday; it’s a long, long way ’til the Masters next April.
Kevin Kisner was in charge until …
Kisner spent the morning before his Saturday tee time making blanket-and-cushion forts with his daughter, which seems like a pretty solid way to kill some time. He continued his ho-hum first-time-in-contention-at-a-major experience with a solid 15 holes, working himself all the way to 10-under. And then … he yanked his approach on 16 into the water, had his bogey putt ring out and then … bogeyed 18 and just like that a three-stroke lead over the field was down to one over Hideki Matsuyama and Chris Stroud.
What was Jason Day thinking?
Having birdied his way back into contention, former world No. 1 Jason Day went to the 18th within four strokes of the lead and riding some momentum. Then he hit his drive into the trees and here’s where it got perplexing. Instead of chipping out into the fairway and taking his lumps, Day decided on an impossible hook shot that, presumably would have gone … we’re not exactly sure where, because in between him and the green was a virtual forest and directly in front of his ball was another tree preventing anything close to a full swing. Predictably, the shot didn’t work, landing behind a bush, forcing him to take a penalty. Nick Faldo, commentating on CBS, called it “one of the worst decisions I’ve seen a professional golfer make.” The result: a quadruple bogey that put him all the way back to even and essentially took Day out of contention for the tournament.
If you’re looking for one of those underdog-made-good tales, you can do worse than Chris Stroud, a guy who had played in 289 PGA Tour events before winning last week for the first time. That got him entry into this year’s PGA Championship, the first major he’d played in since the 2014 PGA, and all he’s done is vault right to the top of the leaderboard. Now he’s just one stroke back of the lead. A high finish this weekend will get him into quite a few more majors next season, and a win would get him an invite to the PGA for the rest of his career.
Hideki Matsuyama has spent most of the last couple years dueling with Rickie Fowler for the title of “best player not to win a major.” While Fowler looked to make a run on Saturday only to have his round go slightly south when he hit it in the drink on 17, Matsuyama remains in striking distance despite a 2-over 73 Round 3. He’s won five times in the last year, most recently at the WGC-Bridgestone last week, where he carded a course-record 61 to close out the day. He’s got exactly the kind of game to take home a major, and this could well be the time.
Grand Slam watch: Done till 2018
Jordan Spieth came rolling into the PGA Championship with only one leg of the career Grand Slam remaining. He’ll leave Quail Hollow the same way, never able to get his game on track at Quail Hollow. “The PGA Championship, I think, is going to be the toughest for me,” Spieth said after his Saturday round left him at 3-over. “If we look historically back on my career, I think I will play this tournament worse than the other three majors just in the way that it’s set up. I feel like my game truly suits the other three majors maybe more than a PGA Championship. But I believe we can play anywhere and can win anywhere. It’s just a matter of having everything in sync at the right time.”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.