Watching the PGA Championship, it seemed like a U.S. Open had broken out. Golfers were missing fairways and finding themselves in rough too thick for an extraction.
Putts came up short for everyone, including Tiger Woods who said he knew the greens were slow.
The result for many golfers was as though the greens and the holes had some kind of ball repellent on them.
There were pins that, according to the expert announcers, were unhittable. That also reduced the chances of scoring.
Even from fairways, many shots hit to the green stopped short of the putting surface or hit the green and bounded over it, to the left, right or falling off the back.
Even if galleries had been present, there would have been few crowd roars because there was little that was cheerworthy. So, was the setup too hard? It seemed like it.
It seemed like a U.S. Open: unhittable, unholdable, unplayable, unscorable. CBS had a graphic that said the back nine played 40-over par. I’d call that overkill. How can anybody make a charge when the only direction they are moving is backwards?
Now some people love that kind of golf. They love it when NASCAR wrecks break out on the course.
Not me. Personally, I like to see some birdies, at least in the first three rounds, so that the event is not decided by bad bounces. So that skill counts.
Fan favorites like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy all struggled, making a grand total of eight birdies in all through three rounds.
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“It’s just like yesterday. I just didn’t get anything going and had to claw and fight to get my way back and didn’t really get anything going until the last few holes,” Woods said to media after the third round. “I’ve always struggled my entire career when the greens look fast and they putt slow.”
Recently elevated world No. 1 Justin Thomas, finally found his birdie machine on Saturday, loading up with six of them, but mistakes cost him. He had bogeys at four holes. He cited windy conditions as contributing to a higher score than he thought he should have made.
“As the No. 1 player in the world, I would hope that I would be able to adjust to that, and I clearly haven’t and need to just work on it,” he said to media after his round.
OK, Bryson DeChambeau made a 95-foot putt at the last hole for birdie and posted a 66. And putting maniac, newcomer, Scottie Scheffler made eight birdies on the way to a 64.
Harding Park was so hard, it even got to Brooks Koepka when he went bogey-bogey-bogey at the 13th, 14th and 15th to fall out of close contention. Will it derail his chances for a three-peat? It might.
“I thought I played a lot better than my score reflected,” he said to media after round three. “Really made one bad swing. But I left it in a good spot and just hit a poor chip.”
Koepka still believes he is in good position to win.
“I mean, I like my chances,” he said. “When I’ve been in this position before, I’ve capitalized. I don’t know, he’s only won one. I’m playing good. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
The “he” Koepka was referring to is Johnson, now alone at the top of the leaderboard. Johnson is a former U.S. Open champ who pulled himself to 9-under par despite a double bogey at the 9th.
“Obviously a bogey would have been a lot nicer, but I knew I was playing good,” Johnson said to media after the third round. “I just needed to keep on going and put it behind me.”
But the tough guy on top at the end of round three was Dustin Johnson, a former U.S. Open champ who pulled himself to 9-under par despite a double bogey at the 9th.
“Obviously a bogey would have been a lot nicer, but I knew I was playing good,” he said to media after the third round. “I just needed to keep on going and put it behind me.”
He had a different opinion on the greens than Woods, but he also played hours later. He thought they were firm and fast.
As for Sunday?
“I definitely need to hit some more fairways, because it’s really tough playing this golf course from the rough,” Johnson noted. “I’m going to just try and go out and shoot as low as I can tomorrow just like I did today.”
Luckily for him, he knows what it takes to win a U.S. Open because that’s what this PGA is playing like!