Late birdie run saves McIlroy’s day, week at PGA

The temperature on Day 1 of the 2018 PGA Championship was a hot and muggy 88 degrees.

Spieth was second in the world after winning the third leg of the grand slam in the 2017 Open Championship but has not tasted victory since and is now ranked 39th after failing to register a single top-20 finish this season.

Matsuyama shot 68 on Friday and Saturday to move into a tie for sixth at 4-under par heading into the final round.

Four-time major victor McIlroy, another back-nine starter, suffered a nightmare opening with two double bogeys around a bogey, but four birdies in his last six holes for a 71 put him on the provisional cut line at 143.

"Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and mentally I know I can beat a lot of them, and then from there it's those guys left, who's going to play good and who can win".

On Friday, with a chance to really get himself in contention for the PGA Championship, Spieth didn't really look like he was working.

"I'm going to need to play the next two days the way I've played the first two days".

Only Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Woods have career victories in the Masters, U.S. Open, (British) Open Championship and PGA.

The others at two-under are recent victor Sung Kang, former Canadian Open victor Chez Reavie, big-hitting Luke List, and Mike Lorenzo-Vera, a 34-year-old French golfer who [quickly checks bio] likes cars. Notably, Koepka rebounded from an bad drive on hole 1 and chipped from the notoriously brutal rough to within four feet for a birdie.

Spieth burst on the PGA Tour scene in 2013, and two weeks before his 20th birthday he won the John Deere Classic. It's the weekends that have been a problem.

McIlroy, 30, is third in the FedExCup and fourth in the world. That helps explain why he has not had a top-10 finish since he tied for ninth at Carnoustie past year.

"I feel like I have good control of the club, good timing, good rhythm and it was nice to roll in a few putts", Spieth said after posting a five-under 135 halfway total.

"I've got no virus this week", he said after making six birdies and three bogeys on the par-70, 7,459-yard course. "So it actually could be looked at positively, as well, because if I didn't have the success that I've had, then, first of all, I wouldn't be in here right now". Although he got masterful in the middle of the round, things then fell apart down the stretch.

In the end, Woods carded a meh 2-over 72 on a sunny morning at Bethpage Black, a result that would usually neither crown nor doom him except for the fact that Brooks Koepka seems poised to torch the field. He recorded birdies on the first, fourth, seventh and eighth, relying on his putter rather than the accuracy of his drives. "I feel like I don't have to be too flawless, but I feel like I can salvage a couple of pars with just a few bad tee shots, and if I keep it in check, I should be able to shoot an under-par round".

He was closing in on Woods at Augusta, though his charge was too late, and if he manages to have a good weekend on the firm greens, you can imagine he will not be far away on Sunday. I think over the next few years, I'm excited for what's to come. "So, it's working back in that direction, but it was far enough off to make it pretty hard, especially to trust it in certain situations in majors". "Brooks does a very good job at majors".

  • Julie Sanders