Scheffler's slide ends with fortunate skip of ball in 3rd round of PGA Championship

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — As quickly as he plummeted out of co-leading the PGA Championship by starting his third round with four bogeys through seven holes, Scottie Scheffler understood things could have been worse.

An errant shot out of the rain-soaked and thick rough on Oak Hill’s seventh hole had the ball headed directly for Allen's Creek. Rather than plop in the water, the ball skipped like a stone and settled on the fairway on the other side.

“That would have definitely been a kick in the gut for sure if the ball went in the hazard,” Scheffler said after finishing with a round of 3-over 73, which left him at 2-under 208 and four shots behind leader Brooks Koepka entering the final round. “Definitely fortunate to not have the ball not end up in the creek, and saved me a full shot at least.”

Though he bogeyed the par-4 seventh, little did Scheffler realize at the time the hole would prove to be a turning point a day he began at 5-under and tied for the lead with Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland.

The 2022 Masters champion and two-time PGA Tour winner this year played his final 11 holes in 1 under, including a 12-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 14th.

“It could have gone the opposite direction as well. That front nine was rough,” the 26-year-old said.

“But the way I played the back nine, I started hitting a lot of fairways and hitting some quality shots,” he added. “I didn’t shoot myself out of it on a day where the conditions were tough, and I didn’t have my best stuff. I hung in there pretty good.”

Though Scheffler by far didn’t post the worst score on a day that featured persistent rain and a few sudden downpours that took much of the roll out of the lengthy East Course, his was among most disappointing outings among the players atop the leaderboard.

Dustin Johnson, who began the day in a tie for 19th at 1-over, dropped into a tie for 33rd after carding a 4-over 74. England’s Callum Tarren, meantime, toppled completely out of contention with a 79 that included three double bogeys. The 32-year-old Tarren dropped into a tie for 52nd after beginning the day tied for sixth with Koepka at 2-under through two rounds.

Koepka carded the best round of the day with a 4-under 66 that has him leading the tournament at 6-under 204, a shot ahead of Hovland and Conners. Only nine players in the 76-man field played the third round under par.

Scheffler counts himself among the fortunate to find himself still in contention, knowing he has some catching up to do on Sunday.

“I hit a lot of quality shots there after that start. So I’m pretty proud of how I fought. I stayed in it,” Scheffler said. “I started driving it really good on the back nine, and that will be important if I’m looking to make a run tomorrow.”


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