PGA Championship

Major drama set for Oak Hill

2013-08-11 17:00
Jim Furyk (AFP)

Rochester - The year's final round of major golf competition began under sunny skies Sunday at the PGA Championship with the stage set for a dramatic afternoon showdown at Oak Hill.

Jim Furyk, whose lone major title came at the 2003 US Open, owned the 54-hole lead at nine-under par 201 and was one of only two players to break par all three days.

But the 43-year-old American has not won a title since the 2010 US PGA Tour Championship and squandered four 54-hole leads last year, including at the US Open.

"I'm not in the grave yet," Furyk said.

"I'm going to have fun with it and I'm going to enjoy the opportunity."

Jason Dufner, who squandered a four-shot lead with four holes remaining to lose the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, was second on 202.

Swedes Henrik Stenson and Jonas Blixt were next.

Stenson, coming off a runner-up effort last month at the British Open, was on 203 with Blixt, playing in only his second major after last month at Muirfield, another stroke adrift.

Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and 46-year-old US veteran Steve Stricker were on 205 with defending champion Rory McIlroy and England's Lee Westwood, whose 61 major starts without a win are the most of any active player, sharing seventh on 207.

Dufner has had some nervy moments already at Oak Hill's 18th green, leaving a 12-foot birdie putt well short on a rainy Friday that would have given him the first 62 in major golf history. On Saturday, a two-foot par putt rolled beside the lip of the cup before dropping in the back side.

"Patience is of the utmost importance on a Sunday in a major," Dufner said.

"You're never really out of it. Even if you make a bogey or two in a row, you can always come back and have a chance to win that thing on the back nine."

Stenson, who has three sub-par rounds so far, and Blixt, who birdied the 18th on Saturday after his tee shot landed in a spectator's hip pocket, each want to become the first Swede to win a major.

"It would be lovely but we're still a long ways from that," Stenson said.

"I hope I have a chance on the back nine but it's a pretty packed leaderboard.

"There are a few guys with a good chance so there's no point in thinking about the future.

"It's about thinking about the shots I'm going to play."

Stricker enjoyed his best major finish in 59 prior starts as the runner-up at the 1998 PGA Championship while Scott made his major breakthrough last April as the first Aussie to win a green jacket.

"If I get off to a good start, I feel like my game is in good enough shape where I can carry that through and shoot a good number."

Westwood led entering the final round at last month's British Open at Muirfield only to watch Phil Mickelson take the Claret Jug.

"You don't know what's going to happen in the last round of a major," Westwood said.

"You saw what happened when I had the lead in the last major and Phil was four, five behind, so anything is possible on the Sunday of a major."

That includes McIlroy making a charge to turn around a year of frustration with new equipment and disappointing results. He birdied 17 and 18, Oak Hill's toughest holes, on Saturday and could be dangerous on Sunday.

"I felt good enough about my game that I could go out and post a good one and at least give myself a chance," McIlroy said.

Read more on:    pga tour  |  pga championship  |  golf


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