PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Sweaters one day, umbrellas the next. No one is sure what to expect at this PGA Championship except that Scottie Scheffler is locked in at another major and Oak Hill is a mighty test.
Scheffler delivered a mix of birdies and great recoveries from wet, nasty rough Saturday (PH time) until he couldn’t escape one last errant tee shot on the 18th that cost him the lead, but certainly did little to dim his optimism.
“When you can hang around the lead and stay in position and hopefully wait to get hot, it’s a good position to be in,” Scheffler said after a 2-under 68 that gave him a three-way share of the lead with Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners.
Rain is in the forecast for Sunday, probably not enough to douse the anticipation of Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka playing together. They were antagonists two years ago — remember the “Brooksy” chants directed at DeChambeau — a relationship somewhat mended through their time in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League.
That feels like a long time ago, and both have a major on their minds. DeChambeau salvaged a 71 and was two behind; Koepka shot 66 and was three back.
Conners dropped only one shot on the brutal closing stretch on the back nine and posted a 68. Hovland had only one bogey in his round of 67.
They were at 5-under 135, with more variety on the horizon. Rain was in the forecast for Sunday, wind on Monday, and 18 players were separated by five shots.
There were a few late charges to move into contention (Koepka with a 31 on the back nine), to keep hopes alive (Rory McIlroy with a 69) or simply to make the cut (Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas).
For now, Scheffler is the target as a Masters champion a year ago and a player who has not finished worse than 12th all year.
Hovland, who shared the 54-hole lead at St. Andrews last summer, is getting used to this, too. He dropped only one shot early in his round of 67, and closed with a 7-iron out of wet, thick rough to 5 feet for birdie. It was his 10th consecutive round in the majors when he ended the day among the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Conners had a 68, at one point building a two-shot lead until he had to rely on his short game to account for some errant drives and tough holes on the front nine.
They were two shots clear of DeChambeau and Justin Suh (68).
The leading seven players came from the same side of the draw. They were delayed by two hours from freezing temperatures and a coat of frost on the grass. They avoided the wind, and then passing showers took some of the fire out of Oak Hill.
There were some impressive turnarounds, to be sure.
Shane Lowry had six birdies in an eight-hole stretch in the rainy afternoon until closing with a pair of bogeys. He had to settle for a 67, leaving him in a large group at even-par 140, five shots behind but still very much in the thick of it.
That group included club pro Michael Block (70), and it included Rory McIlroy, who felt as though he hit the ball badly — and sounded like it on one drive with one choice word — and was mildly stunned when he glanced at the leaderboard to find himself in range. (AP)