The final groups are now on the course as the Sunday push for the season's final major commences. The first four holes at The Ocean Course are absolutely critical for anyone who hopes to contend at the PGA Championship. After a rough start to his third round on Saturday, Tiger Woods held on for a 2-under back nine in his third round. But he still finished the third round five shots back of leader Rory McIlroy, coming in Sunday morning at 2-under.
This made that final round start all the more critical, even with Woods professing that he would stick to his game plan and not try to get overly aggressive on a particularly penal layout. He began the round with a par on the easier par-4 but took advantage of the par-5 second hole. It's hard to say that a player's chances hinge on just one hole so early on, but if Woods wanted to have any chance coming down the stretch, he had to get a birdie on the easy par-5. It was almost better than birdie, however, as Woods stuck his second shot hole high on the green and burned the edge with his eagle putt.
The third hole provided another birdie opportunity for Woods, but he missed badly on his approach shot from just 99 yards. Wielding a lob wedge, he flew the green and the ball rolled down into a collection area behind the green. With the sticky paspalum grass, getting up-and-down with a small landing area looked like a tall task. After a relatively poor shot to get on, he drained his par-saving putt to stay at 3-under.
Unfortunately for Woods, McIlroy still has the same opportunity to pick up a shot at No. 2. He just missed a birdie on the first hole and he looks to have his putter in good form as he tries to become one of the youngest players in golf history to win two majors.
Another player taking advantage of the easier start at The Ocean Course is Ian Poulter. The Englishman has been a crucial member of the European Ryder Cup team over the past decade, but he's on the outside looking in this year. It's likely he'll be a captain's pick, and his play this week could make that a no-brainer. Poulter has been draining everything to start his final round, carding birdies on the first four holes to move into sole possession of second place at 5-under.
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