Mon, Aug 13, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Koepka grabs PGA lead as Tiger joins crowded title hunt

AFP, ST LOUIS, Missouri

Two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka seized a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship, while Tiger Woods charged into contention for his first major title in 10 years.

Fourth-ranked Koepka, who had stretched the lead as large as five shots, fired a four-under-par 66 to stand on 12-under 198 after 54 holes at Bellerive Country Club in the year’s final major event.

The 24-year-old American has never before led a major entering the final round, but he shrugged off having 13 rivals within five strokes, even a long-awaited Woods challenge among seven major champions in that pack.

“I’m just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament,” Koepka said.

Koepka, who in June became the first back-to-back US Open winner since 1989 at Shinnecock, birdied five of the first nine holes, but stumbled with bogeys at 14 and 15 only to boost his lead with a birdie at the par-5 17th hole.

“I played pretty well. Got off to a hot start,” Koepka said.

Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, was second on 200 after shooting 65 on Saturday with Spain’s Jon Rahm and Americans Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland, each chasing his first major title, sharing third on 201.

“Brooks had a massive lead and then two holes later it was one shot,” Rahm said. “Going into the back nine within three shots on Sunday, anything is doable.”

Woods, a 14-time major champion in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery, fired a 66 to share fourth on 202 with second-ranked defending champion Justin Thomas, 2009 British Open winner Stewart Cink, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Australia’s Jason Day and South African Charl Schwartzel.

“There’s a lot of star power and it should be. It’s a major championship and you should see the best players in the world come to the top,” Koepka said.

That is just what Woods has in mind. He birdied five of the first eight holes then closed with 10 consecutive pars and finished four off the pace of Koepka, who took his second consecutive US Open triumph in June at Shinnecock.

“I could’ve been a little bit closer, but I’ve got a shot going into tomorrow,” Woods said.

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