Brooks Koepka leads PGA Championship after three rounds
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy face an uphill battle to end their lengthy major droughts after a rain-soaked third round of the 105th US PGA Championship.
Ten years on from winning the US Open at Merion, Rose carded a third round of 69 at Oak Hill to finish two under par, four shots behind leader Brooks Koepka.
McIlroy, who won the last of his major titles in the 2014 US PGA at next year’s venue Valhalla, also shot 69 to trail fellow four-time major winner Koepka by five after the American fired a second consecutive 66.
Canada’s Corey Conners had led on seven under par after recording two birdies and 13 pars in his first 15 holes, only to find sand off the tee on the 16th and then drill his second shot into the face of the bunker.
That led to a double bogey six and with Viktor Hovland dropping a shot on the 18th to also finish five under, Koepka enjoyed the outright 54-hole lead for the second consecutive major.
Koepka felt he “choked” away the Masters last month having been four ahead of eventual winner Jon Rahm when play was suspended due to bad weather in the third round.
However, that lead was immediately halved when play resumed, Koepka returning to Augusta National to miss a par putt on the seventh as playing partner Rahm birdied the same hole.
Koepka still led by two shots after three rounds but shot a closing 75 to Rahm’s 69.
Bryson DeChambeau, who played alongside Koepka at Oak Hill on Saturday and was roundly booed on the first tee, returned a 70 to lie three shots off the lead.
McIlroy followed two early birdies with three bogeys in the space of four holes from the sixth, but rallied to cover the back nine in 33 to keep Koepka in his sights.
The 34-year-old has struggled with his long game all week and revealed on Thursday he was also battling an unspecified illness.
“I’d obviously like to be a couple of shots closer to the lead,” the world number three said.
“But I think with how I’ve felt this week, if you had have told me on Thursday night that I’d be going into Sunday in the top five and with a realistic chance to win this golf tournament, I would have taken it.”
Club professional Michael Block continued to enjoy a brilliant week as the 46-year-old head professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California carded his third consecutive 70 to remain level par.
Tommy Fleetwood is a shot behind following a third round of 68 and will hope to call on the memories of his record-equalling final round of 63 in the 2018 US Open as he bids to claim a maiden major title.
“It would be the low round of the day if somebody did do it,” Fleetwood said with a smile when asked by the PA news agency if a 63 was possible at Oak Hill.
“Who knows? Didn’t think it was on at Shinnecock but it happened there and it’s obviously something that happens very rarely.
“But I think you just have to go out and hit your shots and play well and see what score you can get. I played really, really well today in tough conditions and actually gave myself a bunch of chances on the front nine.
“You saw guys going low on the back nine yesterday. Any golf course there’s chances out there if things are going your way and you hole some putts.
“We’ll see what Sunday brings, but always nice to have good memories of being able to go low on a major Sunday in your memory bank and who knows? Start off hot and we’ll see.”
World number two Scottie Scheffler will begin the final round four shots off the lead after struggling to a 73 on Saturday.
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