Sunday May 27th, 2018 1:05AM

Kisner survives wild finish to take PGA lead

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Even after his shot bounced high off a concrete bridge over a creek, Kevin Kisner wasn't in the clear at the PGA Championship.

His golf ball was buried in thick grass on a hill above the water. As he looked across to the 18th green at Quail Hollow, wondering how he could even keep it on the green, a leaderboard reminded him of how many players were suddenly in the mix at the final major of the year.

Kisner managed to keep the damage to a minimum in a calamity-filled final hour Saturday.

More importantly, he managed to keep the lead.

Two holes after hitting into the water on No. 16 to lose a two-shot lead, Kisner chopped out of the cabbage-like lie to the other side of the 18th green, then navigated a super slick 45-foot putt to close range to escape with bogey and a 1-over 72, giving him a one-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama and Chris Stroud.

"I'm happy I'm in the position I'm in," Kisner said. "I had a chance to run away from guys and take people out of the tournament that were four or five, six back. And I didn't do it. Now I'm in a dogfight tomorrow, and I have to be prepared for that."

If the closing stretch taught him something, it was to prepare for anything.

Jason Day can attest to that. He wasted a remarkable rally with a peculiar decision to hit a shot from behind a tree. His feet slipped on the pine straw and the ball wound up in a waist-high flower bed. What followed was a penalty drop, a shot to the rough, another short of the green and a quadruple-bogey 8 that most likely ended his chances. He shot 77 and was in no mood to discuss the round.

Stroud three-putted the last two holes for bogey, one from off the 17th green. He managed a 71 and was in the final group Sunday, not bad for a guy who wasn't even eligible for the PGA Championship until he won his first PGA Tour event six days ago.

"It's just a dream come true to be here," he said.

Kisner had the lead going into the final round, a great spot to pursue his first major championship. He just doesn't like what he sees in his rearview mirror, where the players are a lot closer than they once appeared.

Matsuyama made only one birdie and wasted two good scoring chances on the back nine. He had a dull finish, which on this day allowed him to make up ground. With five straight pars at the end, he had a 73 and was one shot behind in his bid to deliver Japan its first major.

"I'm disappointed the way I played today," Matsuyama said. "However, I'm happy to just to be one stroke back and still have a chance."

Justin Thomas, the son of a PGA professional, had the right formula. He didn't drop a shot over the last 12 shots and shot a 69 to finish just two shots behind along with Louis Oosthuizen, who saved par on the 18th with a bold shot for a 71.

It was everyone else in the hunt that fell apart.

Rickie Fowler, quietly lurking with four birdies in an eight-hole stretch, failed to birdie the par-5 15th — the easiest hole at Quail Hollow — and followed with a three-putt bogey on the 16th, an 8-iron into the water for double bogey on the 17th, and a three-putt bogey from just over 20 feet on the 18th. That gave him a 73, and after getting within three shots, he trailed by six.

Paul Casey also was in position until his shot on 18 missed by a fraction and settled in the rough above the hole. His chip ran off the green, and he made double bogey. Casey played the final three holes in 4 over and shot 74. He was seven behind.

The shocker was Day, the former No. 1 player in the world and a PGA champion two years ago. He looked more like Jean Van de Velde, famous for his collapse in the 1999 British Open, except that Day was standing amid bushes of flowers instead of knee deep in the burn at Carnoustie.

Of the 15 players who remained under par, Oosthuizen is the only one who has won a major, and that was seven years ago. The South African had his own problems. His right arm tightened up on the front nine and he required a therapist to work on it. Then he hit a root on a shot with an 8-iron and bent the club, meaning he couldn't use it when he needed it late in his round.

He still has a chance to add to that British Open title at St. Andrews in 2010.

"It's the type of golf course you don't have to go out and make birdies. You just need to keep everything together," Oosthuizen said.

Kisner did that as well as anyone for so much of the day. He was rarely out of position except on the par-5 seventh when he hung a 3-iron to the right and near the hazard. He caught a decent lie and chipped close for his first birdie. And after ending a streak of 25 holes without a bogey, he two-putted the 14th green from 100 feet and two-putted the 15th green from 20 feet, both for birdies, to stretch his lead to two shots as players behind him were fading.

Kisner joined them with mistakes of his own, though he managed to keep his emotions in check.

"As soon as you think you're on top of things, it finds a way to kick you right in the face," Kisner said.

He was speaking about golf. He could have just as easily been talking about the final stretch at Quail Hollow.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Golf, AP Sports - PGA
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kisner survives wild finish to take PGA lead
Kevin Kisner survived wild finish to take PGA Championship lead
8:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Officials: White nationalist rally linked to 3 deaths
A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing one person and sending many more to hospitals
7:55PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Bolt takes a tumble and can't complete final race at worlds
Bolt takes a tumble and cannot complete final race at world championships
7:53PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Chopper crash linked to white nationalist rally
Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day
6:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
1st West Point grad in majors wins debut as Jays top Pirates
Chris Rowley became the first West Point graduate to reach the major leagues and got a win in his debut, allowing one run and five hits over 5 1/3 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays in a 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates
6:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
Cardinals to hold Rally Cat Night promotion on Sept 10
The St. Louis Cardinals will honor their favorite kitten before Sept. 10 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, holding a Rally Cat Night promotion
6:17PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
The Latest: Spieth heating up at PGA with 3 straight birdies
The Latest: Jordan Spieth is heating up at the PGA Championship.
3:44PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Co-leaders tee off for 3rd round at PGA
The Latest: The co-leaders of the PGA Championship are on the course for the third round.
2:10PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Eagles come in pairs at PGA Championship
THE LATEST: Playing partners Marc Leishman and Billy Horschel both chipped in for eagle on the par 5 10th hole at Quail Hollow.
1:33PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Golf
The Latest: Play expected to resume at 99th PGA Championship
The Latest: Tournament officials have announced the PGA Championship is expected to resume at approximately 6:25 p.m. Play has been suspended since 4:43 p.m. due to weather.
6:18PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Only one wild par on 10, and it wasn't Spieth
The Latest: The 10th hole allowed only one wild par Friday at the PGA Championship when Rory McIlroy bounced a shot up a cart path and through a bunker. Jordan Spieth wasn't so fortunate.
5:13PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Play stopped at PGA because of bad weather
Play halted at PGA because of bad weather; Kisner in front, Matsuyama making run
5:11PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - PGA
Officials: White nationalist rally linked to 3 deaths
A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing one person and sending many more to hospitals
7:55PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Bolt takes a tumble and can't complete final race at worlds
Bolt takes a tumble and cannot complete final race at world championships
7:53PM ( 29 minutes ago )
White House's Omarosa Manigault jeered during panel talk
White House official Omarosa Manigault-Newman clashed with a veteran news anchor during a panel discussion on policing in black communities held at the largest gathering of black journalists in the country
7:50PM ( 31 minutes ago )
The Latest: Kisner has PGA lead after wild finish
Kevin Kisner is the leader going into the final round of the PGA Championship after a wild finish at Quail Hollow
7:49PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Benintendi 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, Red Sox rout Severino, Yanks 10-5
Rookie Andrew Benintendi rocketed a pair of three-run homers off All-Star Luis Severino and the Boston Red Sox bounced back from a tough loss, roughing up the New York Yankees 10-5
7:26PM ( 55 minutes ago )