Well, he’s sort of dry. He has to take his right shoe and sock off, planting one foot in the lake so he can play his shot! He flops – splashes would be the wrong word – into the heart of the green. It’s Matsuyama who splashes, from the sand, albeit not particularly close. These lads are making hard work of this third round.
Sung Kang has been there or thereabouts in many a PGA Tour event this year. He’s just strung together quite a run – birdies at 9, 10, 14 and 15 – and this could be another! He’s -3, alongside the aforementioned Grayson Murray and Paul Casey, who has been hovering around quietly, not doing much … but not going away either. Meanwhile some wild scenes on the driveable par-four 14th. The relatively short-hitting Kisner manages to dispatch his ball onto the dancefloor, though he’ll have a long putt for eagle. Matsuyama pulls his drive towards the water, and gets a hugely fortunate kick right into the bunker guarding the green. And Day is equally fortunate: he takes an iron for safety, then sends it straight towards the drink! But somehow the gods are with him, and it snags on the bank. He’s in the hazard, so he won’t be able to ground his club, but he’s dry!
Matsuyama’s tee shot at the par-three 13th hits the green but bounds off down the swale to the right. He chips up to 12 feet. Day sends his tee shot into the oomska over on the left; his wedge only goes to 12 feet too. Both with work to do. Kisner sent his iron over the flag, though, and has a 15-footer coming back for birdie. He tickles a marvellous effort down the treacherous green, but it kinks off to the left at the last turn. Par will do, though. By contrast his partners end up with bogey. Stroud meanwhile chips close with his second at the short par-four 14th, and he’s tied for the lead!
-8: Stroud (14), Kisner (13)
-6: Matsuyama (13)
-5: Fowler (14)
-4: Oosthuizen (14), Thomas (14)
Eagle for local boy Grayson Murray at 15, to go with the birdie he picked up at 13. He’s -3, and the 23-year-old from nearby Raleigh is not out of this by any means! Rory McIlroy has signed for a two-over 73 today, incidentally: he’s +4 overall.
It’s moving day all right, but the leaders all went backwards there. Up on 13, Stroud can only find the fringe at the front with his tee shot, and fluffs his putt. But the saver goes in, and he remains at -7. Oosthuizen sends his tee shot pin high, but can’t make the birdie effort. He stays at -4. But on 14, Fowler nearly drives the green, chips to a couple of feet, and taps in for another birdie! He’s suddenly only three off the lead, one of the few in a positive frame of mind today!
-8: Kisner (12)
-7: Matsuyama (12), Stroud (13)
-5: Fowler (14)
-4: Oosthuizen (13), Thomas (13)
-3: Woodland (15), Casey (14), Day (12)
Trouble for Kisner, Day and Matsuyama down 12. Kisner drives into rough down the right and can only find the front of the green. He’s left with a monster two putt for par, and leaves the first ten feet short. His par putt stays on the edge, and that’s his first bogey of the day. He’s -8. That’s his first bogey in 24 holes. Day hacks his way down the left, twice hitting from behind trees, and is eventually chipping four into the green. He doesn’t go particularly close, and that’s a double. He’s -3. Matsuyama sends his second wide left into cabbage, and fluffs the chip. He blades his second effort to four feet, and that’s a bogey. He’s -7.
Graham DeLaet’s round is now officially getting ridiculous. He’s just raked a 35-footer into the cup at 16 for birdie, and that’s 2-2-3-3 over the last four holes, six shots under par! He’s -2 now. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
Rickie Fowler sends his tee shot at 13 short and right, and fails to get up and down. He hands back that birdie straight away. Bogey for Louis Oosthuizen at 12, meanwhile, the result of his approach toppling off the green to the right, then sailing down a swale.
-9: Kisner (11)
-8: Matsuyama (11)
-7: Stroud (12)
-5: Day (11)
-4: Fowler (13), Oosthuizen (12), Thomas (13)
On 12, Thomas races a long 60-foot birdie putt 12 feet past the hole. But he brilliantly makes the one coming back to save his par and stay at -4. He’s one behind his playing partner Rickie Fowler, though, who birdies to move to -5. Trouble for Chris Stroud coming behind: he hooks his drive into the pines down the left, and can only smash his second under branches and into thick grass front left of the green. He chips up to 15 feet, but can’t make the fairly straight par putt. He’s back to -7. And birdie for Scott Brown on 14, negating a bogey at 12: he’s -3.
Matsuyama doesn’t take particular advantage of that rare accurate drive, in so much as he doesn’t go close with his second. He nearly holes the 25-footer he leaves himself for birdie, but that’s just a par. He stays at -8. Everything was dropping yesterday. Kisner’s approach is a good club short, and he zips his long putt up the green six feet past. But in goes the par saver coming back, and his card remains blemish free. He’s -9. Par too for Day; he’s -5.
DA Points nearly slam dunks his tee shot straight into the cup at 13. He’s just gone double bogey, bogey, so that birdie will bring him back to +1. Meanwhile it’s back-to-back eagles for Graham DeLaet! This time on the par-five 15th, and he’s -1! He’s picked up five shots in the last three holes!
BREAKING NEWS: Hideki Matsuyama finds the fairway with a tee shot. And this is a big boom, splitting the tight 11th in half. That’s the drive of the day. Not bad for a player who has been erratic from the from the get-go in this third round. Day finds the bunker down the left, while Kisner finds the fairway as usual. Meanwhile birdie for Gary Woodland at 14, and he’s suddenly in the mix at -3.
Kisner bundles his chip to 18 inches, very nearly making an outrageous birdie. But he’ll settle for par. He’s -9. Matsuyama’s up next with a putt from 25 feet, and tickles a slow snaking effort to tap-in distance. He’s -8. And finally Day, who knocked his third to five feet. It’s a fairly straight one … and for the third time today, he misses a short one. To be fair, this one is pretty unfortunate: it looks like dropping on the left, skirts round the back, looks like dropping on the right, then somehow pops back up and sits on the lip at the front. He stays at -5 too. Three pars. There really is next to nothing going on. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the amazing non-moving Moving Day!
Kisner’s second at the par-five 10th is a wild hoick into the punters down the left. His chip towards the green isn’t up to much. Matsuyama’s second flies off in the other direction, and his bump up onto the dancefloor isn’t all that either. Day meanwhile drives near a tree and is forced to punch a low scuttler under branches towards the general direction of the green. All three men in this final group making a meal of a hole that’s given up a lot of birdies.
Louis Oosthuizen passes up a good chance for birdie on 10, overcooking a simple four footer, the ball whistling past the hole on the high side. He stays at -5. It’s not been his day at all, but he’s still only four off the lead.
-9: Kisner (9)
-8: Stroud (9), Matsuyama (9)
-5: Oosthuizen (10), Day (9)
-4: Thomas (10), Fowler (10)
Graham DeLaet nearly makes a hole-in-one albatross on the par-four 14th! He lands his tee shot on the green, the ball takes three bounces, rolls towards the hole, and skips over the top of the cup! It stops eight feet behind the hole. He makes his eagle, which is only fair. That comes off the back of birdie at 13, and he’s +1.
Matsuyama lobs over the sand and lands his ball an inch on the green. It runs 15 feet past, but that’s a decent effort from where he was. And in goes the par saver! That’s a magnificent, borderline ridiculous par. He stays at -8. He’s out in 35. Day, feet in the bunker, ball out, grips down the shaft and clips onto the green, but not particularly closely. He can’t make the putt, and drops back to -5. Kisner’s birdie putt, which looks straight, kinks off to the left at the death. He remains at -9. He’s out in 34, and along with Scott Brown and James Hahn, one of only three bogey-free players out there today. Meanwhile Fowler is nearly on the 10th green in two, but chips clumsily past the hole and can’t make the ten-footer coming back for his birdie. He stays at -4. Justin Thomas joins him after sending his chip to a couple of feet and cleaning up..
Coming behind, Hideki Matsuyama sends his tee shot at 9 deep into the pines lining the left of the hole. He sends a draw greenwards from the pine straw, but can only find the cabbage to the left of the green. He’s also shortsided, with a bunker in the way. It’ll be some up and down to save par from there. Kevin Kisner finds the green quietly in regulation: pin high, 15 feet from the flag. Jason Day is meanwhile forced to fire a low iron underneath some hanging branches, and watches in horror as the ball snags by a greenside bunker, leaving him no stance. Kisner demonstrating the benefit of finding the fairway with a straight, short drive, as opposed to booming it long and towards the woods.
Back on the 9th green, Chris Stroud has found the bunker guarding the front-left. He’s not got a lot of grass to play with, and the lip of the trap is high. But he splashes out gorgeously, and he’ll save his par to remain at -8. Par also for Louis Oosthuizen, but even more spectacularly: after physically bothering some poor punter watching from the left of the hole with a wild second, he eventually leaves himself with a 60-foot par putt … and in it goes! He stays at -5. He’s injured and not in form today, but the 2010 Open champion is clinging on.
Jon Rahm was five under for his round after 14 holes. He ends with a level-par 71 after finishing 6-6-3-6: bogey, double, par, double. He’s +3, and wanders off holding the back of his neck, one of those classic panic-attack coping mechanisms. He’s young, he’ll be back to post a low one. Maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile another birdie for Scott Brown, this time on 10, and he rises to -3.
News of Rory McIlroy. He reached the turn in one-over 36, then immediately dropped a couple more strokes with bogeys at 10 and 11. He’s just picked one back up at 13, but he’s adrift at +4, his status as pre-tournament favourite hanging sadly round his neck right now. Back on 8, Matsuyama bundles a chip up to the hole, saving his par; Day nearly curls a putt on from the fringe; and Kisner pulls an awful birdie effort wide left. Pars all round, and it’s as you were.
Matsuyama lifts a high approach into 8. It lands 12 feet from the flag, but bites and spins back in determined fashion, toppling off the front of the green and back down the fairway. Day chips greenwards from tangled rough down the left, and doesn’t get enough purchase on the ball. It only just reaches the fringe. The leader Kisner does the best job, sending his second bouncing past the hole and nestling on the fringe at the back, within realistic birdie range.
Glad we posted that leaderboard when we could. Because Chris Stroud has just birdied the short par-four 8th to move a shot behind the leader at -8. His playing partner Louis Oosthuizen very nearly made an outrageous birdie, after driving into the trees down the right, getting a free drop for some unspecified reason, chipping up not particularly close, then nearly raking in the putt. But he stays at -5. Meanwhile some news of Gary Woodland, who follows up birdie at 8 with another at 10. He’s -2.
Here, there’s something very aesthetically pleasing about this leaderboard. (See also: cricket scorecards where every batsman makes double figures, no more, no less.)
-9: Kisner (7)
-8: Matsuyama (7)
-7: Stroud (7)
-6: Day (7)
-5: Oosthuizen (8)
-4: Fowler (8)
Birdie for Rickie Fowler after a gorgeous chip on 8. He’s back to -4. And birdie for his partner Justin Thomas, too, who rises to -3. The third member of that group, Paul Casey, pars, but he birdied 7 and is -3 too. Back on 7, Kisner chips up delicately from the hazard to four feet. Brilliant birdie, snatched from the jaws of disaster. Day races his 50-foot eagle effort five feet past. He pulls the birdie effort wide left, and that’s the second daft short one he’s missed. Par, and this is not the sort of behaviour that wins major championships. Matsuyama doesn’t hit his 17-footer, and has to settle for birdie. That’s something of a disappointment after such a good approach.
Matt Kuchar very nearly aces 17! He larrups a 7-iron straight at the flag. A couple of bounces and a skip, and the ball nearly releases into the cup. It stops a couple of feet short, and he’ll kick in to move to +2. Meanwhile back on the par-five 7th, the leader Kevin Kisner splits the fairway with his drive, but hoicks his second towards the water guarding the green on the right. The ball snags in the thick rough just before the rockery lining the lake. He’s in the hazard, but dry. Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day toy with the creek on the right with their drives, but both have shots into the green and eagle chances are set up in short order.
Trouble for Jordan Spieth on 18. He finds sand down the right from the tee, then has a lash at the green. Bad move, as he hooks into the creek running down the left of the hole. It costs him a double bogey, and a fine back-nine comeback goes off the rails at the very end. That’s a level-par 71, and he finishes the day where he started at +3. Double for Jon Rahm at 16, after finding rough then three-putting; that’s two sixes in a row. He’s back to +1, and there goes all that good work. Meanwhile Chris Stroud finds the middle of the par-five 7th with a whippy long iron. Two putts, and that’s a birdie, bringing him to within a shot of Kevin Kisner’s lead at -7. Birdie for Louis Oosthuizen, too, but he was a turn away from making a relatively short eagle effort. He’s -5 again.
Play is really slowing up here, the result of sending everyone out in threes. The final group of Kisner, Matsuyama and Day have a 20-minute wait at the par-three 6th. Eventually they get a go, and it’s not really worth the wait. Mastsuyama plays it safe by going for the heart of the green, well away from the flag, front left near sand. The other two come up short, fooled by the false front. Matsuyama lags up nicely for his fifth par in a row. The other two get up and down without much fuss. Moving Day? Pah!
The only player in the top ten currently under par for his round today is Scott Brown, the 34-year-old from Augusta with no record to speak of in any of the majors. He’s birdied 7, and sits nicely at -2. Birdie for Rickie Fowler at 7. It’s his first in his last 17 holes, and he’s back to where he started the day at -3. Ditto Paul Casey, who gets up and down from the thick grass to the side of the par-five.
Jon Rahm’s momentum comes to a juddering halt on the par-five 15th. He’s got a long putt for birdie, leaves it three feet short, and then carelessly lets the par effort slide by. He’s back to -1, and easy to forget he’s only 22 years old. Chris Stroud comes up short at the par-three 6th, and his putt up onto the green isn’t all that. He can’t knock in the eight footer he leaves himself, and he’s back to -6. Bogey for Louis Oosthuizen, too; he’s back to -4, and has his right arm strapped and supported now. Meanwhile Spieth nearly sends his tee shot at 17 into the drink to the left of the green, but the fringe is his friend. Sure enough, he very nearly chips in for an outrageous birdie, but he’d have settled for par when that ball was trundling towards the water, and par’s what the deal is. He stays at +1.
Bogey for Justin Thomas at 6, having taken two goes at a chip from the thick Bermuda grass to the left of the green. He’s -2. A bit of a gap developing at the top of the leader board now, between the top five and the chasing pack, in the wake of that error.
-8: Kisner (5)
-7: Stroud (5), Matsuyama (5)
-6: Day (5)
-5: Oosthuizen (5)
-2: Rahm (14), Brown (7), Casey (6), Fowler (6), Thomas (6), Molinari (5)
Three birdies in a row for Jordan Spieth! He starts out on the Green Mile by picking up yet another stroke at 16. He’s +1 and … well, too far back, surely. But … well … Jordan Spieth, you know. Rickie Fowler is a dimple away from stroking in an uphill 20-footer on 6 for birdie, but remains at -2. And up on 12, from the middle of the fairway, Robert Streb lashes his approach straight at the flag. A couple of short bounces, a jag to the right, and it’s in the cup for eagle! He’s level par!
Another birdie for Jon Rahm! This one at the short par-four 14th, and that’s three threes in a row. He’s -2, and will be cursing his mid-round collapse yesterday en route to a 75. The leader Kisner nearly rolls in a 12-footer for birdie on 5, but it skates past the left of the cup and he remains at -8. His playing partner Jason Day should move onto his shoulder, but having knocked his second to three feet, yips the putt right and stays at -6. That is an appalling miss.
News of Jordan Spieth, who simply refuses to buckle under any circumstances, whether a major’s in the balance or not. Back to back birdies at 14 and 15, and he’s +2. Meanwhile Bryson DeChambeau makes his first eagle in a major after 298 holes of trying! A little chip onto 10 which releases and trundles into the cup. He’s +3 overall, and that’s a nice response seeing he’d just gone bogey-double bogey.
Jon Rahm is going along very nicely. Five birdies today, the latest at 10 and 12, and he’s moved up the standings to -1. Francesco Molinari, off the back of his 64 yesterday, was heading the other way fast, having doubled the opening hole and followed that up with bogeys at 2 and 3. But a birdie at 5 has stemmed the flow of blood. He’s -2. And speaking of injury, poor Louis Oosthuizen is getting more treatment on his right arm, in the wake of that trick shot near the tree on 2. Must have hit a root, Rory style. Get well, get well soon, as Elaine Benes might sing. (No cake.)
Thanks Bryan. So… Moving Day, they call this. Not a whole lot of moving going on, though, is there? Thank goodness, then, for Chris Stroud, who only qualified for this tournament last week by winning the Barracuda, and is taking full advantage of his late invite. He’s just eased his second into 5 pin high and rolled in a 15-footer for birdie, and he’s a shot off Kevin Kisner’s lead!
-8: Kisner (4)
-7: Stroud (5), Matsuyama (4)
-6: Day (4)
-5: Oosthuizen (4)
-3: Thomas (5)
-2: Casey (5), An (5), Fowler (5)
Kevin Kisner’s perfection on short putts had to end sometime. He’d been a perfect 32-for-32 from inside 10 feet at Quail Hollow before missing a nine-foot birdie putt just now on the third green, but he taps in for par and still alone atop the leaderboard at -8.
And with that, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the sated and rested Scott Murray.