Scheffler clings to one
Top-ranked The third round of the US PGA’s Tour Championship was postponed until Sunday due to lightning on Saturday, although reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler maintained a one-stroke lead.
When the final 14 golfers on the course were stopped, Tokyo Olympic winner Xander Schauffele was only one shot behind, setting up a tight finish to the PGA’s season-ending match at East Lake in Atlanta.
With playing partner and fellow American Schauffele at 19-under par through 12 holes, Scheffler led the 29-player field.
With a 72-hole event, Scheffler believed that the competition was still in its early stages. “We’re all just kind of jockeying for position, and I was just trying to make some good shots out there.”
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, a four-time major champion, was fourth on 15-under and 5-under overall after 16 holes. Im Sung-jae of South Korea was third on 16-under with four holes remaining.
Due to a staggered start scoring system based on season point totals, Scheffler had a four-stroke lead over Schauffele at the start of the tournament. However, after 36 holes, Schauffele had cut that lead to two strokes.
Before leaders teed off, there had been a 58-minute delay in tee times due to lightning. Schauffele then made a move.
He tied Scheffler for the lead at 19-under by sinking a birdie putt from just outside 12 feet at the par-3 second hole and another from just beyond four feet at the third.
With bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes as a result of missing fairways, Schauffele eventually caught up to Scheffler by birdying the sixth and seventh holes, the latter of which required a 33-foot putt.
When play was paused, Scheffler was in the lead after both leaders bogeyed the par-3 11th after finding bunkers after making seven pars. Scheffler had pulled ahead by one shot after sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the eighth to take the lead.
Even though I wasn’t playing at my best, Scheffler recalls, “I was kind of hanging in there.” I was hoping to give myself some chances at the finish, but the horn suddenly went off.
On Sunday, the final round of play was scheduled to begin in the early afternoon with the leaders teeing off.
Because of the staggered scoring system, the player who shoots the lowest 72-hole total of the week won’t necessarily take home the $18 million top prize offered by the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Scheffler, who had yet to win a PGA championship at the start of the year, won four tournaments in two months, with his first major victory coming at Augusta National in April. He may win the postseason championship and finish off an incredible season.
When play starts, American Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship this year, needs to make a two-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to tie Rory McIlroy for the lead at 15 under.