A chipper Tiger speaks to CBS. “I felt I putted better today … the golf course is playing long … my body held up good this week, all things considered, as chilly as it is … I stayed pretty loose … it’d be nice when it’s warmer, but I kept my layers up and I’m looking forward to a week off. I’ll see ya in the future!”
An’s putt brushes the right-hand edge of the cup. It won’t drop, but that’s still a par, and it’s still a best-of-week equalling 64. Plus a hole-in-one at 11! Not a bad day’s work all round for the 28-year-old South Korean, who ends the week at a healthy -4, and is the new clubhouse leader.
The wind is picking up, which suggests conditions later will get harder, pretty much the pattern of the first three days. The early starters have taken their opportunity to shoot low, though, and none more than An Byeong-hun, who having birdied 16, now comes up the last hoping for a birdie that’d give him a major-championship 63. He’s on in regulation, and with a very decent chance from ten feet as well. The cherry on top of a day that’s already provided him with a hole-in-one?
Tiger, who hasn’t played too much golf of late, tires a wee bit coming down the last. He loses his drive off to the right, and can’t power onto the green from the rough. His third is a weak chip that leaves a 25-footer for a valedictory par. He can’t make it. It’s a bogey, but it’s still an excellent final-day 67. He finishes the week at -1.
Victor Hovland makes it back to the clubhouse with a 66. The 22-year-old from Oslo is an early clubhouse leader, and can be proud of his first professional start at a major. He’s already got two low-amateur prizes on his CV, at last year’s Masters and US Open, plus one PGA Tour title under his belt. Sky pundit Paul McGinley thinks he might need to work a bit on his chipping off bare lies, but other than that, the young Norwegian appears to be the complete package. Watch this space. A month’s time at Winged Foot for the US Open? He did finish tied for 12th as low amateur last year, after all!
Tiger is certainly in the mood for a strong finish. Out in 33, he’s since birdied 14 and now the par-three 17th, after clipping a tee shot to 12 feet, then rolling smoothly home. He’s -2 and putting much better than he did yesterday, though he’s not looking particularly happy. That’s presumably a legacy of his antics on the short par-four 16th, at which he flubbed a chip into a bunker, ruining his chance for birdie.
The 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott was on the verge of seriously challenging on a couple of occasions this week, only to lose momentum each time. Starting out today seven shots back at -2, he’s surely too far back to consider winning: he’d have to match the record 54-hole comeback at the PGA, achieved only once, by John Mahaffey to snatch the prize off Tom Watson in 1978. Even then, Mahaffey started the day in fifth, while Scott had a third of the field ahead of him this morning. So, nope. But a climb up the rankings would still be most acceptable, and to this end he’s opened with birdies at 1 and 4. He’s -4.
Birdie for Tiger at 14, and he’s in red figures for the tournament at -1. Rory McIlroy is putting together a consistent round for once this week, albeit not a particularly exciting one; he turns in 34 after eight pars and a birdie at 5. Baby steps as he tries to rediscover his form ahead of next month’s US Open. He’s -1 too. And Erik van Rooyen finishes the week in style with a 66, rising to +1.
Back to the action inside the fence, and An has bounced straight back with birdie on 14. He’s -3 again. Brendan Steele has started well with birdies at 3 and 5; he’s -3 overall. And the young Norwegian Viktor Hovland, making his professional debut in the majors, looks like signing off in style. He turned in 34, and has since posted birdies at 10, 14 and 16. He’s four under for his round, and -2 overall.
Earlier we mentioned the crowd gathered by the boundary fence near the 12th tee (6.52pm BST). James Burke was a member of said throng, and here’s irrefutable evidence. By the looks of it, this was just after Tiger’s caddy gave him the aforementioned sandwich. Pulitzer, please!
But it is true that the fourth round is yet to truly heat up. While we wait for the leading groups to tee off – it’s still well over two hours until the final pair of Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler make their way out – let us direct you to this article on Georgia Oboh, the first Nigerian player to earn a card on the Ladies European Tour.
Speaking Too Soon dept. An drops a stroke at 13, so a record-breaking round approaches pipe-dream status now. He’s -2. Meanwhile Oosthuizen ships a shot at 9 and slips to -1. Apologies to both for tempting fate, though An’s hole-in-one came immediately after an entry complaining about nothing whatsoever happening, so it’s swings and roundabouts. All part of our charm. Eh?
The 2010 Open champ Louis Oosthuizen – who tied for second in this tournament at Quail Hollow three years ago – is going along nicely. Birdies at 4, 5 and now 8 have launched him up to -2. There will surely be plenty of low scoring today, unless the wind picks up too much, as it did on the first two days especially.
An is now five under for his round through 12. He’s -3 overall. Just to point out that, should he pick up four more shots, he’d break Branden Grace’s lowest major round record of 62. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility: Ryan Palmer finished eagle, birdie, birdie after all. God speed, Ben.
The PGA has been good to us for hole-in-ones recently. Matt Wallace made one during the third round in 2018, two bounces, a shuffle and a roll on the 16th at Bellerive. Then last year at Bethpage Black, Lucas Bjerregaard sent a one-bounce, one-swish 6-iron into the cup at the 206-yard par three 17th. Such a shame there was no crowd to erupt when An repeated the feat today, but by the look of mellow contentment on his face, he doesn’t care one jot. A hole-in-one on the final day of a major!
A hole-in-one for An Byeong-hun! It’s at the 189-yard par-three 11th. A high draw lands softly on the green, takes four ever-decreasing bounces, and drops obediently into the cup! The feat takes a second or two to register – no punters down there to lose their minds – but when the penny drops, up go both arms in triumph with a jolly YAY! His playing partner Sepp Straka makes up for the lack of ear-splitting noise by cheering as well. A lovely moment. An ambles down to the green and plucks his ball from the hole with a smile of sweet satisfaction … but not before repairing his pitchmark. Look and learn, kids.
There’s not a whole lot going on at the moment, if we’re being totally honest with you. The 12th tee box is near the boundary fence, where small crowds have congregated all week to cheer on their favourites. Tiger belts one down the track to a few whoops and hollers. His caddy gives him a sandwich. The first major of the year, right here, live on your super soaraway Guardian.
The pins appear more accessible today, so Palmer shouldn’t be the only one shooting low. Further illustration is provided by An Byeong-hun, who really should have a better record in the majors than he does, but no top-ten finishes yet. He’s just gone out in 32, and that’s despite bogeying the 2nd. Birdies at 3, 4, 5 and 9 have whistled the 28-year-old South Korean up the leaderboard to -1.
The 43-year-old Texan Ryan Palmer hasn’t done too much in the majors in his long career. But he did lead this tournament after round one at Valhalla in 2014, and made an eagle on the back nine on Sunday that briefly threatened to catapult him into serious contention. He ended tied for sixth that week, his best finish in a big one. He’ll not match that today, but he’s just equalled Tommy Fleetwood and Cameron Champ’s best-of-week 64, thanks to a finish he would be able to sell for $$$$$$$$s to folk up the leaderboard if he could: eagle, birdie, birdie! Sensational stuff; he’s level par for the week. Here’s hoping he’s given the rest of the field the inspiration to launch some similar fireworks later on.
Jordan Spieth won’t be completing that career slam yet. Next year at Kiawah Island, perhaps. The three-time major winner has been struggling terribly with his game of late, though there were shafts of light during Friday’s 68. Yesterday’s miserable 76 was probably more indicative of his current malaise, but he’ll be back, and it’s nice to see him now three under for his round today too, and making plenty of birdies (4, 5, 10, 15 and now 16). He’s +4, and yeah, he’ll be back.
So having gone to all the trouble of writing that entry, he’s just bogeyed 8 after finding sand at the long par-three. Tiger! That means he’s no longer the hottest property out there early doors. That’ll now be his playing partner, 31-year-old North Carolinian Tom Hoge, who is making his PGA Championship debut this week. Birdies this morning at 1, 4 and 7, and he’s -1.
Unlike Medinah ‘99, Valhalla ‘00, Medinah ‘06 and Southern Hills ‘07, it’s not been Tiger’s week. An opening round of 68 gave hope that PGA #5 and major #16 could be on the way, but two subsequent rounds of 72 proved it was not to be. Yesterday’s 72 could have been a whole lot worse had his much-maligned new flat stick not got him out of a couple of scrapes on the back nine, and he’s taken confidence from that late boost today. Birdies at 4, 5 and now 7, and he’s -1 for the tournament.
This could be redemption time for Dustin Johnson. Ten years ago at Whistling Straits, the big man grounded his club on a patch of sandy grit coming down the last. Under the local rules, it counted as a bunker, and a retrospective penalty meant he missed out on a play-off with Bubba Watson and eventual winner Martin Kaymer.
Then last year at Bethpage Black, he reeled in runaway leader Brooks Koepka to within a stroke, only to immediately hand a couple of shots back and let his compatriot break for the tape. The PGA Championship owes him one. Yes, this could be redemption time. He’s playing more than well enough, as yesterday’s wonderful back nine of 31 proves beyond any doubt. It’s on! It’s … on?
Thing is, Sundays are rarely kind to DJ at the majors. Also on his rap sheet: a three-putt from close range on 18 to hand over the 2015 US Open to Jordan Spieth; a shot wanged OB from the middle of the fairway at the business end of the 2011 Open; that triple-bogey, double-bogey pratfall upon stumbling out of the blocks at the 2010 US Open, shipping a three-shot 54-hole advantage in record time. Even the one he won, the 2016 US Open, involved another controversial retrospective penalty. Assume nothing when the big man’s in contention.
Plus Koepka is just two off the lead. There are plenty of other players ready to pounce, too. You could make a case for just about anyone on the leaderboard, which looked like this after 54 holes …
-9: D Johnson
-8: Scheffler, Champ
-7: Morikawa, Casey, Koepka
-6: DeChambeau, Finau, Rose, Berger, Day, Fleetwood
-5: Dahmen, Kim, Wolff, Schauffele, Li
-4: Matsuyama, Wiesberger, Lorenzo-Vera
-3: Cantlay, Poulter, Simpson, Rahm, Reed, Varner III, Frittelli, Griffin, Todd
Here’s when everyone will be teeing off (BST not local). This promises to be a final day for the ages. Good luck, everyone! It’s on!
1500 Sung Kang
1510 Ryan Palmer, Jordan Spieth
1520 Chez Reavie, J.T. Poston
1530 Erik van Rooyen, Matt Wallace
1540 Danny Lee, Robert MacIntyre
1550 Adam Long, Bubba Watson
1600 Joost Luiten, Rory Sabbatini
1610 Kevin Streelman, Viktor Hovland
1620 Jim Herman, Gary Woodland
1630 Tiger Woods, Tom Hoge
1640 Sepp Straka, Byeong Hun An
1650 Billy Horschel, Abraham Ancer
1700 Phil Mickelson, Russell Henley
1710 Luke List, Mark Hubbard
1720 Bud Cauley, Louis Oosthuizen
1730 Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker
1750 Kurt Kitayama, Rory McIlroy
1800 Doc Redman, Emiliano Grillo
1810 Mackenzie Hughes, Cameron Smith
1820 Brendan Steele, Alex Noren
1830 Denny McCarthy, Adam Hadwin
1840 Shane Lowry, Nate Lashley
1850 Justin Thomas, Harris English
1900 Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel
1910 Kevin Kisner, Victor Perez
1920 Brendon Todd, Keith Mitchell
1930 Dylan Frittelli, Lanto Griffin
1940 Patrick Reed, Harold Varner III
1950 Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm
2000 Patrick Cantlay, Ian Poulter
2010 Bernd Wiesberger, Mike Lorenzo-Vera
2020 Li Haotong, Hideki Matsuyama
2040 Matthew Wolff, Xander Schauffele
2050 Joel Dahmen, Si Woo Kim
2100 Daniel Berger, Tommy Fleetwood
2110 Justin Rose, Jason Day
2120 Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau
2130 Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka
2140 Cameron Champ, Collin Morikawa
2150 Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler