FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka began the third round of the PGA Championship seven strokes ahead of everyone else. Four hours later, after all the hits and misses of 18 holes at a major championship, he was right where he started, with a lead of seven shots over a different group of pursuers.
For those players chasing the man who is now just 18 holes away from winning his fourth major in his last eight attempts, it was a wasted day.
Adam Scott, we’re talking about you. Scott started the day in the second-to-last group at 5 under par after firing a 64 on Friday. He wasn’t going to do that again, but if he had, he would be just one stroke off the lead. Instead, Scott shot a 2-over 72 and fell even further behind Koepka, who fired an even-par 70.
And Jordan Spieth, we’re talking about you, too. Spieth was tied with Scott when he teed off in the final pairing with Koepka and was tied with Scott when he finished, shooting 2 over as well after a day of spotty iron play.
Shall we also mention Rickie Fowler? He began the day 10 shots behind Koepka and is now 11 behind. “I’m looking forward to having a lot of this ugly stuff behind me,” Fowler said after the round.
And then there’s Dustin Johnson. He reached 7 under for the tournament with four birdies and a bogey on the front nine but couldn’t sustain his play on the back, finishing in a four-way tie for second at 5 under.
“It was just one of those days where I didn’t score that well,” Johnson said. “It’s going to take something special to catch Brooks, but it’s definitely doable. If I put together a good score, 5 or 6 under, and he shoots 1 or 2 over …”
If, if, if ...
The best third-round scores among those on the leaderboard at Bethpage Black were two 67s — one by Harold Varner III and the other by Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, tied for second with Johnson and Luke List, who, like Johnson, shot 1 under.
So those who will be trying to stop Koepka from his coronation Sunday are names we barely know, aside from Johnson. That’s because almost all the big names were big busts Saturday. On golf’s traditional moving day, they all stood still.
Measuring up: Mayoral field swells to 11 with Lightfoot, Garcia, other late filers — but now battle begins to cut that number down