5 Things We Learned on Saturday of the 2018 PGA Championship

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5 Things We Learned on Saturday of the 2018 PGA Championship

Round 3 has concluded at Bellerive, and golf could not ask for a finer leader board as Saturday evening falls. In fact, a populace could not be better served than the teaching professionals of America. The organization that introduces a majority of golfers to the game, polishes swings, refines etiquette, has a star-studded cast on stage for Sunday’s final round. The weather problems have left the region, and St. Louis and Bellerive are prepared for an unforgettable 4th round. We learned a few things on day 3, so let’s move along with 5 things we learned on Saturday at the PGA Championship.

5) Does the viewing public care about quality architecture more than a quality field?

Complete transparency: I’m an architecture junky and know the difference between Trent Jones and Travis, Dye and Doak, and Coore and MacDonald. Sometimes there isn’t much, other times, there is. The runway tees, constant same-direction doglegs, and fairway-pinching bunkering of the Trent Jones influence were certainly a reaction to the quality architecture that came before World War 2 in the USA, and a lightning rod for the renaissance that began in the early 1990s. Here’s the rub: Koepka, Scott, Rahm, Fowler, Woods Day, Thomas, Molinari, Kisner, Cink are in the top 15 after 54 holes. You have U.S. Open, British Open, Masters and PGA champions in that roll call, recent challengers and the best of a young generation. What’s not to like about that, whether the architecture is our finest or not? One thing’s for certain: the PGA of America set up the Bellerive course to challenge (but not burden) the field, and the superintendent and crew executed the plan to perfection.

Doesn’t get any closer than this. (Sound on ????)

— PGA of America (@PGA)

4) What does it mean to be Under The Radar?

Andy North won 2 U.S. Opens and not much else. One other PGA Tour event, in fact. He wasn’t due any more attention than that, as he didn’t demonstrate any staying power or diversity in his wins. Eerily similar is the case of Brooks Koepka: a standard tour win (Phoenix) followed by … 2 U.S. Opens. You can’t say that Brooks Koepka is any better than Andy North, at this stage of his career. Therefore, he doesn’t merit any more attention or respect than other major winners in the field. How about Adam Scott, Stewart Cink, Webb Simpson or Jason Day? One major for each of them, and like Koepka, ready to break free of whatever distinction they currently have. All great players, but not yet part of a legendary pantheon.

Webb Simpson with the chip-in for an emphatic par save. ??

— PGA of America (@PGA)

3) Who are these young guys, yet to win a major?

Jon Rahm is the most heralded of the younger generation. 23 years old, already a winner, already tabbed to perform in a legendary manner. Unfair burden, perhaps, but those who desire the mantel of greatness, must accept such an onus. Kevin Kisner has challenged so often in majors, these last 15 months. On Saturday, he played an un-Kisner like round of +2, dropping 5 shots off the pace set by Koepka at -12. Will the chance to come from behind suit him more than being a front-runner, as he was in July at Carnoustie? How about Gary Woodland? He’s 34, not a young guy by any stretch, but he needs a feature victory of his own. He fits the image of a PGA champion: hard-grinding journeyman who stays out of the spotlight, but has the game to produce at any moment.

33+ feet is no problem for Jon Rahm.

— PGA of America (@PGA)

2) How about the defending champion and the Jarrod Lyle factor?

Justin Thomas had 68 on Saturday for a total of 8-under. He’s a quartet of shots off the lead and not keen on giving up the Wannamaker trophy he won in 2017. He knows how to win from behind, and how to hold a lead. He’s awfully tough to beat when the stakes are high. On a completely-different plane, Adam Scott and Jason Day have the entire nation of Australia on their shoulders, as they try to win one for their fallen comrade, Jarrod Lyle. So many forms of motivation, only one winner.

JT escapes trouble to put it close. ????

— PGA of America (@PGA)

1) Woods

The elephant in the room is a tiger. Tiger Woods had a chance in July at the British Open. He has consecutive 66s after opening with 70. Another 66 will get him to 12-under, but it won’t be enough to win. He’ll need 64, and he’ll need to do it in the company of Gary Woodland, in the 3rd-last pairing. Before he arrives at the first tee, Woods will have the information he needs on who is making a move, which holes offer an opportunity to save strokes, and what he might need to do. The rest will be up to Tiger 4.0, a mash-up of 2000, 2005 and 2008 Tiger Woods. If he shoots another 31 on the front nine, as he did on Saturday, watch out. I can’t wait. I CANNOT WAIT!!

. pumps out an impressive 31 on the front 9.

He’s 8-under and 2 shots back. ????

— PGA of America (@PGA)

5 Things We Learned on Saturday of the 2018 PGA Championship

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