CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Kisner survived a calamitous finish at the PGA Championship on Saturday thanks to a good bounce off a bridge that allowed him to escape with a bogey and take a one-shot lead into the final round at Quail Hollow.
Kisner already had given up a two-shot lead in the third round with a shot into the water on the 16th hole that led to double bogey. He nearly did it again on the 18th until the ball hit the concrete bridge, sailed high in the air and disappeared in thick grass on the hill above a creek. He did well to chop that out onto the green and two-putt from 45 feet for 1-over 72.
He was at 7-under 206 as he goes after his first major championship.
"I'm happy I'm in the position I'm in," Kisner said. "I had a chance to run away from guys and take people out of the tournament that were four or five, six back. And I didn't do it. Now I'm in a dogfight (today), and I have to be prepared for that."
He wasn't alone in his struggles at the end of a long day of oppressive heat.
Chris Stroud, the last player to qualify for the PGA Championship with a playoff victory last week at the Barracuda Championship, three-putted for bogey on his final two holes for 71 and plays today in the final group with Kisner. He was one shot behind along with Hideki Matsuyama, who had 73.
Jason Day was right there with them until a peculiar decision likely cost him a reasonable chance to stay with the leaders. Stuck behind a tree right of the 18th fairway, Day chose not to pitch out to the fairway and tried hooking the ball around the tree and the gallery to the right. The club clanged off the pine and the ball went into the bushes. He took a penalty drop, found the rough, came up short of the green and ended with a quadruple-bogey 8 for 77.
Day was seven shots behind. He declined to speak to reporters as he left the clubhouse.
Rickie Fowler got within three shots of the lead until a three-putt bogey on the 16th hole, a tee shot into the water on the 17th for a double bogey and a three-putt bogey on the last hole left him with 73. That sent him six shots behind.
Through all that chaos, Matsuyama, ranked third in the world, kept alive his chances to bring Japan its first major win. He made his share of mistakes, and though he failed to convert two good birdie chances, he played the last five holes bogey-free.
"I'm disappointed the way I played (Saturday)," Matsuyama said via an interpreter. "Probably the pressure had to do with it."
Of the 15 players who remained under par, Louis Oosthuizen was the only one who had won a major, and that was seven years ago (the 2010 British Open). Oosthuizen saved par from a similar spot to the one Day was in on the 18th hole and shot 71. He was at 5-under 208 along with Justin Thomas, the son of a PGA professional, who played bogey-free over his last 12 holes and posted a 69.
"It's the type of golf course you don't have to go out and make birdies," Oosthuizen said. "You just need to keep everything together."