Watney in control at PGA
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2010 US PGA Championship | Round Three | 15 Aug 2010
Even a bogey at his final hole of the round three at the PGA Championship could not wipe the smile off the face of Nick Watney. The 29 year old had just completed a round of 66 which had swept him to a commanding three shot lead over Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy heading into tomorrow’s final round.
The two time PGA Tour winner tomorrow faces his biggest day in golf to date but if today’s effort is anything to go by then he is likely to become the third first time major winner in 2010.
For the first time in three days weather played little part in the proceedings today and all 78 players required to return to the golf course to complete round two had done so by 11.20am and tees times and pairings were set for round three.
Matt Kuchar held onto his overnight lead despite challenges from several of those at the golf course early to finish things off in round two. 72 players made the cut at 1 over or better and in order to get things back on schedule two tees were used this afternoon.
Kuchar, at 8 under, led by one at the halfway mark over Watney with Jim Furyk also in the final group of the day, courtesy of his strong finish to round two. Furyk’s final nine of 33 had him at 6 under and in outright third position.
The benign conditions of the morning remained that way all day and before long the chasers were making their intentions known. While leader, Kuchar, was struggling, others were making significant moves. Kuchar dropped two shots before the turn and on a day where the golf course was there to be had he quickly slipped back into the fold.
Watney on the other hand was relentless, opening with two birdies and taking the lead. He parred the third but then made a very important 16 footer for par at the 4th to keep the momentum going. He did just that when he added birdies at the 5th, 6th and 7th and by then the horse had all but bolted. He had moved to 12 under and a four shot lead and although the gap was reduced to three at the close of play his early statement in round three he has an enviable lead.
“Well, I can only control what I do, said the leader referring to what lies ahead. “And I’m going to go out there tomorrow, put the tee in the ground on No. 1 and just try to focus on that shot. It’s going to be a long day, it’s going to be a tough day, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Well, I haven’t seen him yet,” he added when asked if he would be seeing coach Butch Harmon before tomorrow’s final round. “But I’ll definitely tap into his wealth of knowledge after this round and I’m sure he’ll just say to enjoy the process and go out there and just play the first hole. I don’t think there’s any, there’s any magic formula, but, yeah I’ll definitely have a chat with Butch.”
Not that a three shot lead is comfortable. Just ask one of his nearest chaser’s Dustin Johnson. Two months ago Johnson took a three shot lead into the final round of the US Open only to lose it in the opening three holes. There will be much interest in Johnson the hunter rather than the hunted and if he is to turn the tables tomorrow then perhaps the golfing gods are rewarding him for the staunch recovery from a horror final day at Pebble Beach.
Also at 10 under and three back is Northern Ireland’s McIlroy who has a great chance to improve on his third place finish in this event last year and his third place finish a month ago at St Andrews. A frustrating bogey at the reachable par five 8th was the 21 year old’s only blemish of the day. He is expected to win multiple majors in his career and tomorrow he has the chance of it happening a little earlier than he and others might have thought.
At 9 under and four behind the lead are Liang wen-chong whose round of 64 today sets up the juicy prospect of a first time major winner for China just twelve months after Y.E. Yang became the first Asian to win a major in this very championship. Liang improved 40 positions today and if he can carry the momentum over until Sunday then he is not without hope.
Also at 9 under is 22 year old Australian Jason Day who despite an ongoing battle with illness in 2010 is playing his best golf. In just his second major championship he leads the Australians and has created a chance to become the fifth Australian to win this title.
Martin Kaymer is another at 9 under after his round of 67.
One of the four Australians that Day is looking to join as a winner of this championship, Steve Elkington, put together a final nine holes of 31 to give himself an outside chance of adding to his 1995 title.
Marc Leishman and Adam Scott at even par and Stuart Appleby at 2 over are the only other Australians to have made the cut.