Brooks Koepka in contention for third PGA Championship win in four years
Looking for his third PGA Championship victory in his last four starts, Brooks Koepka will begin Sunday’s final round at Kiawah Island trailing fellow PGA Champion Phil Mickelson by one shot at 6 under.
“I left a lot out there,” said Koepka, who had five birdies and three bogeys on the day. “I've got a chance to win, so that's all I wanted to do today is not give back any shots and be there tomorrow with a chance, and I've got that.”
Koepka began Saturday’s third round trailing 36-hole co-leaders Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen by one shot at 5 under.
But with a remarkable start by Mickelson – a 4-under 32 on his front nine – Koepka found himself trailing the 50-year-old, 2005 PGA Champion by five strokes after nine holes. Not that it bothered the even-keeled Koepka.
“No, just worry about me,” Koepka said of his approach. “Just worry about what I'm doing. Yeah, I saw Phil was at 10 and I was at 5, but just go about my business. I can't control what he's doing, I just need to play better. Simple.”
On the back side, fortunes reversed. What was quickly looking to be a Mickelson runaway suddenly tightened up.
Mickelson stumbled a bit on the back nine with a bogey on No. 12, followed by a double bogey on No. 13 after a water-ball tee shot.
By the time Koepka birdied the par-4 16th, he was tied for the lead with Mickelson at 7 under.
With a bogey on No. 18, Koepka finished with a 2-under 70 for the day and moved to 6 under for the week, putting him one behind Mickelson who would save par with a wild up and down moments later.
Koepka conceded he had a very good ball-striking day but was less than thrilled with his putting. Based on what he had to say, that might actually bode well for Sunday.
“Probably the worst putting performance I’ve ever had,” Koepka said. “Can’t get any worse.”
Should it get better, look out.
A win on Sunday would be Koepka’s fifth major overall and the speed with which he’s winning PGA Championships would put him ahead of the great Jack Nicklaus, who won three PGA Championships in five years between 1971-75.
Koepka is looking to join James Braid, John Henry Taylor, Byron Nelson, Peter Thomson, Seve Ballesteros and Mickelson as players with five major championship wins.
Koepka and Mickelson will be paired together for the final round. The duo played together in the third round of the 2020 Masters. Koepka shot a 3-under 69 that day, while Mickelson struggled to a 7-over 79.
“Yeah, it's nice,” Koepka said of his final-round pairing with Mickelson. “Like I said, I can see what he's doing, and everybody else is in front of me, so I'll have a good idea on the leaderboard what's going on and just need to putt better. Simple. If I strike it anything like I did the last three days, I'll have a chance.”