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Phil Mickelson completed another home game at Bethpage Black on Sunday, finishing far down the leaderboard in the PGA Championship.
Maybe no one is going to catch Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship, but the rest of the field still has plenty to play for. There are the FedEx Cup standings and Masters invitations and the world ranking to think about, not to mention more than $1 million that goes to the runner-up.
Jordan Spieth’s third round in the final group of the PGA Championship with runaway leader Brooks Koepka will have to speak for itself. Spieth didn’t talk to the media. Minutes after signing his scorecard on a scrambling round of 2-over-par 72, the 25-year-old Texan refused a reporter’s request for an interview.
It would have made the perfect pairing: Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, close friends and workout buddies, ranked first and third in the world, in the final group of the fourth round of a major. But it didn’t happen. Johnson bogeyed the 18th hole in the third round of the PGA Championship to fall into a four-way tie for second place.
Staked to a seven-shot lead, Koepka never let anyone get closer than five shots in the third round as he powered his way to an ideal start and overcame a few sloppy mistakes for an even-par 70.
Majors at Bethpage Black seem to bring out the best in Lucas Glover. The 39-year-old won the U.S. Open in 2009 by two shots on the Long Island public course and is playing on the weekend in the PGA Championship. Glover shot his second straight 1-under 69 and finished 54 holes at even par. Not bad for a guy who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after missing the cut at the U.S. Open at the start of last summer.
Tiger Woods shot a 3-over 73 at Bethpage Black in the second round of the PGA Championship to finish at 5 over for 36 holes and miss the cut by one stroke.
Tiger Woods wasn’t the only prominent player who missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Bethpage Black also claimed Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker, who had not missed a cut in a major since the 2009 PGA Championship, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter and Marc Leishman, who won this season’s opener, the CIMB Classic.
Adam Scott isn’t intimidated by how Brooks Koepka is handling Bethpage Black. He also is aware that if Koepka keeps at it, Scott’s chances of winning a second major are nonexistent, even after he shot a 64 in the second round. It was the best score of the round.
The Jazz man from Thailand made some music at the PGA Championship, and it was really good. Jazz Janewattananond is a 23-year-old playing in his first PGA Championship. He has shot rounds of 70 and 68 and his 2 under total has him on the leaderboard at Bethpage Black, even if his full last name doesn’t fit.
Rory McIlroy appeared headed for a flight back to Florida when he stood at 7 over par with six holes left in the second round of the PGA Championship. Some ugly drives, unwise decisions and putts that ignored the hole put him in that precarious position. Then the two-time PGA titleholder and four-time major winner turned things around. His four birdies in the final five holes lifted him to 3 over, projected to be good enough to make the cut.
What felt like a battle for Brooks Koepka looked like a runaway second round in the PGA Championship. Koepka backed up his record-tying 63 with a round that put him in a league of his own. He had a 65 to set the major championship record for 36 holes and set a PGA record with a seven-shot lead.
For the second time, John Daly drove into history at the PGA Championship. First he did it with his big tee shots at Crooked Stick. This time he did it with his hands on a steering wheel at Bethpage Black. The surprise winner of the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate was given a rare exemption to drive a cart at Bethpage Black because of arthritis in his knee. And even a tough New York crowd had a soft spot for him. There was a roar every time he arrived at a tee or hit a shot.
The PGA Championship began poorly for Tiger Woods. Although he got masterful in the middle of the round, things then fell apart down the stretch. Not making any of it more palatable, Woods was paired with defending champion Brooks Koepka, who shot a 63 on a somewhat benign Bethpage Black. A nine-shot deficit after one round was not exactly what the galleries cheering his every move projected for Woods as he comes off his Masters victory and 15th major championship.
U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood was back on Long Island for another major, and once again he was looking up at Brooks Koepka on the leaderboard. Fleetwood shot a 3-under 67 in the first round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, four strokes behind the two-time defending U.S. Open champion. Fleetwood shot 63 in the final round at Shinnecock Hills last year but still finished one stroke behind Koepke.
Brooks Koepka delivered on the biggest stage again, this time with Tiger Woods at his side. Koepka had a 7-under 63, making him the first player in 101 years of the PGA Championship to shoot that score twice. Meanwhile, coming off his Masters victory, Woods shot 72.
The modest Midwestern lifestyle of Steve Stricker has given way to moments of celebrity over the last month, watching the Masters with Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett and getting a police escort to the airport after winning a senior major on Monday. He and Phil Mickelson are the only two players at the PGA Championship who have played all four rounds of all four tournaments at Bethpage Black.
Phil Mickelson is back in the New York area this week for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. It’s a course where he has twice finished as the runner-up in the U.S. Open. The five-time major champion says he enjoys feeding off the New York crowds and would like to reward them by winning.
Jordan Spieth needs to win the PGA Championship for the career Grand Slam. Masters champion Tiger Woods needs to win the next three majors to capture an unprecedented calendar Grand Slam. Based on how their seasons have gone, the question now is who has the better chance.
John Daly hates having to use a cart in the PGA Championship and probably wouldn’t do it unless the major didn’t mean so much to him. He arrived at the Bethpage Black clubhouse with an elastic bandage around his right knee, a cigarette in one hand and a wish that he could simply walk the 7,459-yard rolling course the next four days. Arthritis in his knee prevents that. After playing nine practice holes, Daly said the cart is a big disadvantage. He can’t figure out where he can go with it.