PGA Championship: Up-and-down rounds set up dramatic final day

pga championship: up-and-down rounds set up dramatic final day
© Provided by Yahoo Sports US TULSA, OK – MAY 21: Will Zalatoris shakes hands with Mito Pereira of Chile on the first hole during the third round of the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on May 21, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America via Getty Images)

On a day where the winds swirled, the temperatures plummeted and the skies stayed gray, the elements and Southern Hills had their way with the field at the PGA Championship. Former champions struggled to an unexpected degree. While the names atop the leaderboard remained largely unchanged from Friday, Saturday’s struggles indicated that no one will go into Sunday’s final round feeling confident.

Mito Pereira and Will Zalatoris began the day at the top of the leaderboard. Then they went through dizzying runs, both struggling and succeeding. Pereira ended up being the steadier of the two, playing Saturday at one under par. When the rest of the field was falling back, though, that was enough to give Pereira the solo lead at -9.

“Today it was a really tough day. It was windy, cold, gusting,” Pereira said after the round. “I thought I hit it really well. Hit some bad shots. But it’s normal. So I think I’m hitting the ball just awesome.”

Pereira at one point had a four-stroke lead on the field, reaching as low as -10, but then carded four bogeys in five holes to briefly surrender the lead to Zalatoris. At the same time, Zalatoris was rebounding from a rough early start — four bogeys in seven holes — and kept himself from plummeting too far down the leaderboard. He finished the day at -6, three over for the day and three strokes off the lead.

“I was pretty frustrated with the start but I would rather have a frustrating start and good finish,” Zalatoris said. “It’s good momentum heading into [Sunday]. It was brutal out there. I really did a poor job of leaving myself above the hole pretty much all day.”

Low rounds among the leaders belonged to Matthew Fitzpatrick and Cameron Young, who rode identical -3 rounds to final positions of -6 and -5, respectively. Fitzpatrick will be in the final pairing with Pereira, while Zalatoris and Young will tee off in the penultimate slot. None of the top four have recorded a single win on the PGA Tour, which ought to make for some nerves on Sunday.

“Looking forward to [Sunday] with the [bogey-bogey] start that I had,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was just really proud of the way that I battled back and didn’t really let it faze me, so obviously a very good round in the end.

“I think there’s definitely some uncomfortable holes, but I think they are uncomfortable for everybody,” Young said. “I’ve hit a lot of fairways, and from there you don’t have to hit it quite as well as everybody else to be up there.”

Rory McIlroy squandered the very last bit of his brilliant Thursday start, at one point dropping six strokes over the course of five holes, including double- and triple-bogeys. In true Rory fashion, he started playing better once the pressure was off, carding three birdies over four late holes. He finished his day with a three-putt bogey on the 18th to end a +4 round that left him at even par for the tournament.

Much further down the leaderboard, Tiger Woods struggled to one of his worst major rounds ever, finishing with a 79 that included a run of five straight bogeys or worse. After the round, Woods declined to speak to the media, talking only to a single pool reporter and leaving the question of whether he would play on Sunday very much in doubt.

“I’m sore,” Woods said afterward. “I know that is for a fact. We’ll do some work and see how it goes.”

Pereira and the remainder of the leaders will tee off after noon Sunday. By sundown, there will be a new PGA champion … but it’s anyone’s guess who that will be.


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at

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