Mickelson and Love back on the leader board
Thomas Bjorn shot a seven-under 63 on Saturday to match the record for the lowest round in one of golf’s majors, getting within a stroke of the lead at the United States PGA Championship on a day when temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius.
Phil Mickelson, who led golf’s last major of the season by three strokes after the second round, came back to the field with a two-over 72, while Davis Love III shot his third straight 68 to earn a share of the lead with his fellow American.
Michelson and Love were at six-under 204, one ahead of Bjorn and two ahead of a group that included Vijay Singh, Stuart Appelby, Steve Elkington and Pat Perez.
Mickelson lost command of his tee shots and his putting stroke, making only one birdie. His last chance to keep the lead to himself ended when a six-foot birdie putt grazed the edge of the cup.
“I struggled a little bit, but I fought hard to stay in the lead,” Mickelson said.
Love opened with two straight birdies and then traded birdies and bogeys the rest of the way.
Winless in two years, Love is in the final group at a major for the first time since the 2003 British Open.
“I’m playing with a lot of confidence, just like Phil,” Love said. “That’s why we’re both on top of the leader board.”
Bjorn became the 20th player to shoot 63 in a major, and the first since Singh in the 2003 US Open, by getting up-and-down from behind the 18th green for birdie. It was the third 63 at Baltusrol, where Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf did it in the first round of the 1980 US Open.
“This 63 is not about records,” Bjorn said. “It’s about championships. And that’s all it means to me, that I got myself into position where I can play from here. And I’m going to try my hardest tomorrow again, and then we’ll see.”
Singh, trying to join Tiger Woods as the only consecutive PGA champions in the stroke-play era, opened with 17 pars before he blasted out of a bunker to three feet for his only birdie and a 69.
At the start of the third round, Mickelson had a three-shot lead, and only nine players were within five.
When he ambled off the 18th green, there were 17 players within five shots. And even Woods, who narrowly made the cut on Friday, was only a little further back, six strokes off the lead.
Despite turning easy birdies into par fives on the final two holes, Woods kept alive his hopes of winning his third major of the year with a four-under 66. Still, he has never come back from greater than five shots on the PGA Tour, and he has won all 12 of his majors from the front.—Sapa-AP