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Golf | US PGA Championship

Kevin Kisner © Action Images

Kisner clings to PGA Champs lead



Unheralded Kevin Kisner nursed a one-stroke lead over US compatriot Chris Stroud and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama onto the back nine in Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship.

World No 25 Kisner made eight pars and a birdie at the par-5 seventh on his front nine Saturday at Quail Hollow to stay atop the leaderboard at nine-under par.

Third-ranked Matsuyama, trying to become Japan's first male major winner, began the day level with Kisner for the lead but opened with a bogey, missing a five-foot par putt. He matched Kisner's birdie at the seventh and holed a clutch 12-foot par putt at the ninth to stay on the leader's heels.

Stroud, forced by Friday storms to finish his second round Saturday morning, moved one back with a birdie at the fifth, a bogey at the par-3 sixth and birdies at the seventh and eighth.

Australia's Jason Day sank a four-foot birdie putt at the second but missed an eight-footer for par at the third to fall back and found a bunker at the ninth before missing a 13-foot putt and making bogey, joining South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 US Open winner and a three-time major runner-up, in fourth on five-under.

Matsuyama's bogey was the 30th of the day at the first hole with three double bogeys and no birdies.

"The pin is in a location you have to get lucky," second-ranked Jordan Spieth said of the first hole.

Kisner made steady pars although his run of making 32 consecutive putts within 10 feet ended with a seven-foot birdie lip-out at the third.

Kisner skirted disaster at the par-5 seventh, his approach clinging to hillside rough above water, before chipping to four feet and making the birdie putt.

Matsuyama comes off a World Golf Championships victory last week at Akron. Since 1947, the only players to win the week before the PGA and take the major title as well were Tiger Woods in 2007 and Rory McIlroy in 2014.

Matsuyama, whose six top-10 finishes in 20 prior major starts include a runner-up effort in June's US Open, would be only the second Asian man to win a major after South Korea's Yang Yong-Eun at the 2009 PGA.

At Erin Hills, Matsuyama matched the best showing by a Japanese male golfer in a major, the 1980 US Open runner-up finish by Isao Aoki.

World number 25 Kisner, a US PGA Tour winner three months ago at Colonial, needed 109 tries to claim his first tour victory in 2015 at Sea Island. The 33-year-old lives only a two-hour drive south of the course.

"I'm excited about the way I'm playing. I'm excited about being in the last group," Kisner said before hs round. "If I hit the fairways I can make a lot of birdies."

Seventh-ranked Day, the 2015 PGA winner and last year's runner-up, has endured a season of struggles but could turn his campaign in a single weekend by winning another Wanamaker Trophy.

Stroud, a US PGA Tour winner last week to take the last spot in the PGA field, is ranked 203rd and playing his first major since the 2014 PGA. It's just the ninth major of his career and only the third where he made the cut.

MCILROY, SPIETH STRUGGLE

Only 16 players were under par at Quail Hollow.

Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, trying to snap a three-year drought since his most recent major win at the 2014 PGA, had three birdies and four bogeys through 15 holes.

He would need the best comeback in PGA history to take the top prize of $1.89 million.

So would Spieth, who captured his third career major at last month's British Open. The US star closed with a double bogey to shoot 71 and stand on three-over 216 in his bid to become the youngest player to complete a career Grand Slam.



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