Sports

Johnson gets into the frame as Woods moves out of it in a packed leaderboard

V Krishnaswamy San Francisco | Updated on August 10, 2020 Published on August 09, 2020

A file picture of Tiger Woods, who has fallen too far back to mount a serious challenge at the PGA Championships   -  Reuters

Tiger Woods is too far back to mount a serious challenge at the PGA Championships even as a dozen players are within three shots of the sole leader Dustin Johnson after 54 holes.

Johnson will be chased hard by a lot of past Major winners and some fresh faces, too, but none more than Brooks Koepka, who is two behind. Koepka may well have been with him or even better but for that three-bogey run from 13th to the 15th, which threatened to push him way behind. But birdies on 16th and 18th kept him in touch with Johnson.

One shot behind Johnson at 8-under is the young brigade Collin Morikawa (65), Cameron Champ (67) and Scottie Scheffler (65).

Woods had all pars except a bogey on 8th on front nine and then came three bogeys in a row from 11th to 13th. Birdies on 16th and 18th salvaged the card to 72, the same as second day. Overall he is still over par at 2-over and is T-59th.

Rory McIlroy (71) is T-41st at even par for three rounds, while World Number 1 Justin Thomas (68) is T-34.

Paul Casey (68), still searching for his maiden Major after two decades as a pro and 15 years after joining the PGA Tour, is Tied-fourth with Koepka (69).

After forgetting his yardage book, Johnson had to work with the one his caddie and brother, Austin Johnson, had. However eight birdies as he led by one at Harding Park. The 2016 US Open winner, Johnson’s 65 included a double bogey on the ninth hole.

The lead changed hands often enough to whet the appetite of all those following 2020’s first Major, albeit on the TV screens.

Koepka kept alive his chances of a third straight Wanamaker Trophy, a feat which was last achieved by Walter Hagen, who won four in a row from 1924 to 1927, when the Major was played as match play.

Scheffler, the PGA TOUR rookie, bogeyed his last hole for a 65 and was one shot behind with Cameron Champ (67), who is one of the biggest hitters on the Tour.

“I’m going to have to play good golf if I want to win. It’s simple,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that tomorrow, I’m going to have a good chance coming down the stretch. ... I’m just going to have to do what I did today. Just get it done.”

Other contenders include Jason Day (70) and Justin Rose (70) at T-7 at 6-under and then there was Bryson DeChambeau, who had a 95-foot putt for birdie on 18th in his 65. Apart from Day and Rose, the seven-man group at 6-under and in T-7 are DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger and Tommy Fleetwood.

Woods is however way back. He did not find his first birdie till the 16th and he has not been able to find the form and touch that carried him a 15tth Major at the Masters last year.

Li Haotong (73), the first Chinese player to lead after any round at a major, still had the lead through 12 holes but then his tee shot on 13th got stuck in the trees and he ended with a double. He had further bogeys on 14th and 16th and slipped to 5-under and T-13.

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Published on August 09, 2020
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