CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Kevin Kisner survived a poor finish to limp in with a one-stroke lead over Hideki Matsuyama and Chris Stroud as the third round of the PGA Championship turned into a battle of attrition on Saturday.
On a day when Australian Jason Day plunged out of contention with a quadruple-bogey at the last, Kisner eked out a one-over 72 on a Quail Hollow course that bared its teeth, despite Friday’s rain and little wind.
Kisner, not the longest of hitters but unerringly accurate for the most part until he double-bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the last, posted a seven-under 206 total, one stroke ahead of fellow American Stroud (71) and Japan’s Matsuyama (73).
American Justin Thomas and South African Louis Oosthuizen were two behind heading into the final round of the year’s last major.
On undulating greens, some of the hole locations were extremely difficult, with nobody on the leaderboard shooting better than the 68 by Canadian Graham DeLaet, who went six-under in a remarkable four-hole stretch to vault within five strokes of the lead.
Kisner lamented squandering the chance to eliminate more rivals. He had hardly put a foot wrong until pulling his approach into water at the par-four 16th.
“I had a chance to run away from guys and take people out of the tournament that were four or five (or) six back, and I didn’t do it. Now I’m in a dogfight tomorrow and I have to be prepared for that,” said the world number 25.
“I didn’t make the putts I’ve been making the first two days and just terrible finish there.
“It feels easy until you smack one in the water and then it seems hard again.”
Despite that, Kisner could capture the title in just his 12th major start.
“It’s a dream to win a major. That’s what I grew up practising and playing, to play on the PGA Tour and to have a chance in major championships,” said the two-time tour winner.