ST. LOUIS – Hideki Matsuyama shot a 3-over 73 to fall 12 strokes off the pace during the third round at the PGA Championship as American Brooks Koepka claimed the lead in the year’s final major on Saturday.
Matsuyama, who carded a 1-under 69 in the rain-delayed second round, undid three birdies with four bogeys and a double bogey to fall into an eight-way tie for 63rd place at Bellerive Country Club.
The 26-year-old Japanese, who along with compatriot Yuta Ikeda carded a first-round 68 to open the day four strokes off the pace, bogeyed the first to set the tone for a challenging round.
“I just had a feeling it wasn’t going well. I couldn’t find the fairway and that made it tough to keep up,” Matsuyama said. “I want to be able to play better tomorrow.”
Koepka, coming off his second consecutive U.S. Open win, overcame two bogeys with six birdies for a 66 to snare a two-stroke lead over Australia’s former world No. 1 and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.
“I feel like I know that I was playing good, so I knew I was going to have a pretty good chance (of winning),” said Koepka. “My odds were pretty good this week with the way I hit it last week.”
For Koepka, Sunday is a chance to win three of the last six majors he played, and to join an elite list — Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen — as the only players to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year.
“You can’t hide when you’re on the top of the leaderboard,” he said. “You can’t hide my name. So just try to get to the top of the leaderboard and work from there.”
Scott had a 65, despite missing three putts from 6 feet, two of them for birdie. He is struggling through his worst season since he turned pro in 2000, and now has a chance to turn it into a year he won’t forget.
Ten players were within four shots of the lead, no name bigger — no buzz bigger — than Woods. He completed his second round Saturday morning with a 66, and then had another 66 in the afternoon that was so good it was the worst he could have shot. He made nothing but pars over the last 10 holes. On seven of the last eight holes, Woods had a birdie or eagle putt of 20 feet or closer and missed them all.
He was four shots behind in a tie for sixth, the same spot he was in going in the final day at the British Open last month, when he briefly had the lead before fading.
“I just wish I could have got myself a couple more shots closer to the lead,” Woods said. “But there aren’t a lot of guys up there in front of me.”
The list included Jon Rahm (66), Rickie Fowler (69) and Gary Woodland (71), who gave himself a chance despite falling six shots behind after a triple bogey from his footprints in the sand at No. 10.
Satoshi Kodaira managed four birdies but gave back three shots in a five-hole span to finish with a 69, while a lone bogey earned Ikeda a 71. Both Japanese players sit at 2-under and in a 12-way tie for 45th.
“My putting got better,” Kodaira said. “I started thinking that I couldn’t do any worse than I was, and that seems to be working. I think I’m headed in a good direction.”
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