Topics: From the Wires
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — In a year when no lead seems safe, Rory McIlroy might have built an insurmountable one in the season’s last major.
McIlroy led the PGA Championship by six strokes with six holes to play Sunday after his putt on No. 12 caught the right edge of the cup and dropped in for a birdie. Ian Poulter applied some early pressure with a relentless start, making birdies on the first five holes and eight of the first 12. But McIlroy remained steady after beginning the round with a three-shot lead.
McIlroy was 11-under par with six holes remaining. Poulter reached 8 under after a birdie on No. 12, but he bogeyed the next three holes to fall back.
Carl Pettersson also was at 5 under. He could have been in better shape, but he double bogeyed the first hole after a loose impediment in a hazard moved in his backswing — a two-stroke penalty. Pettersson birdied four of five holes later in the front nine.
Tiger Woods was 3 under through 13 holes and stood little chance of winning his first major championship since 2008.
McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, was trying to end an odd streak in which 16 straight majors have been won by 16 players. He also was trying to become the first 54-hole leader to win a major this year.
The 23-year-old McIlroy finished his third round earlier Sunday, wrapping up a 5-under 67 after players returned to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. The third round was halted by rain late Saturday afternoon.
It hasn’t been a great year for McIlroy. He hasn’t finished higher than 40th in a major, but he became the first player this weekend to open any significant distance on the field when he birdied the 15th and 16th holes toward the end of his third round. That was after he made five birdies on the front nine Saturday.
Poulter began brilliantly in the final round, and his putt from about 20 feet for a birdie on No. 4 moved him to 5 under. He birdied the next hole as well, but McIlroy didn’t make any big mistakes to help the players chasing him. He birdied three of the first seven holes and recovered from sand to make par on Nos. 9 and 10.
Justin Rose shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 4 under. He was tied with defending champion Keegan Bradley, Peter Hanson, Adam Scott and Bo Van Pelt, who were still on the course.
It was Scott who was in command at the British Open last month before bogeying the last four holes and losing to Ernie Els. None of the 54-hole leaders at the other three majors this year — Scott at the British Open, Peter Hanson at the Masters, and Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open — held on to win.
In the morning, while finishing the third round, Woods wasn’t pleased with his drive on the par-4 15th hole. His club went sailing when he let go of it on the follow through, and the ball flew well to the right of the fairway, landing in a grassy, sandy area not too far from the beach.
He was able to recover, hitting a terrific shot to the green. He then came up limping for a few seconds before pulling what appeared to be some sort of prickly brush off the right leg of his pants.
Woods looked fine when he arrived at the green and two-putted for par.
With a number of players finishing the third round Sunday morning, the final round was being played in threesomes off both tees, rare for a major championship.
It was the first time since 2008 that the PGA Championship didn’t complete three rounds on Saturday. Some players had to go 36 holes on the final day that year, and Padraig Harrington wound up winning his second straight major.
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