Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Golf

Two can make Swedish history at PGA Championship

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Henrik Stenson and Jonas Blixt will try to do something today in the PGA Championship that none of their countrymen has done but countrywoman Annika Sorenstam did 10 times.

Win a major.

Stenson, the British Open runnerup, began Saturday three off the lead, shot 69 and was at 7-under 203, two shots behind leader Jim Furyk. Blixt, who carded 66 and might have locked up the shot-of-the-tournament title with his approach into 18, was three behind.

"We're definitely increasing the chances (of a Swedish win) with having two guys up there rather than one," Stenson said.

"Or," he added a moment later, "none."

Despite his bogey-free result, Blixt knew one thing in his preround routine would change today: "I drank coffee in the morning and got really jacked up. No coffee (today)."

On No. 18, Blixt's tee shot veered well left of the fairway, bounced and landed in the back pocket of a spectator. "I never did anything like that," he said.

He dropped and hit a 5 iron about 6 feet from the cup and made birdie.

That's more like it: With many players faltering as Oak Hill toughened, defending champion Rory McIlroy charged into contention. He birdied the last two holes for 67 that pushed him to 3-under 207, six back of the lead.

Over his last 25 holes going back to Friday, McIlroy was 7 under with one bogey. In a seasonlong slump that included missing the British Open cut, he looked more like the player who won the PGA by a record eight shots last year.

"It's getting there," said McIlroy, 24, trying to become the fifth player in the past century to win three majors before age 25 (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen). "It was good to feel that sort of rush again."

Also-rans: Woods' and Phil Mickelson's lost weekend continued.

Woods started by missing the fairway on No. 1 and bogeying, closed with bogeys on 16 and 17, and finished 3-over 73, leaving him at 4 over and tied for 48th.

"Well, it was hard for me," said Woods, who in seven rounds overall at Oak Hill in the PGA has none under par and is a combined 16 over. "I didn't play very well. I didn't hit very good, didn't make anything, kept blocking every putt."

Mickelson had a triple bogey, a double bogey and five bogeys in shooting 8-over 78, which tied his worst score at the PGA. He was in 74th place, one shot ahead of last-place Gary Woodland. Mickel­son did not speak to reporters. He did sign autographs.

Since 1997, Woods and Mickelson have never both finished outside the top 50 when making the cut.

15TH HOLE LOCATION: The PGA Championship let fans choose the hole location on No. 15 for today's final round. They were given four choices, with Nicklaus providing input on strategy differences.

The PGA of America said more than 92,000 votes were cast on its website, Facebook and Twitter. The winner was "Hole Location C," which will be 25 yards on and 4 yards from the water on the right. Nicklaus, who won the PGA at Oak Hill in 1980, approved of the selection. It's the one he voted for.

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