On a day when the PGA Championship’s leaders at Quail Hollow shot over par or stayed even, former Kansas Jayhawk Gary Woodland inched within striking distance to claim his first ever major tournament.
The Topeka native shot a 2-under 69 in Saturday’s third round as second-round co-leaders Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama posted rounds of 1-over and 2-over to narrow Woodland’s gap down from eighth strokes entering the day.
“I played well and I was really dialed in,” Woodland said. “I saw Butch (Harmon) on the range this morning and we corrected some things I overdid earlier in the week.”
His five-birdie, three-bogey round featured 12-of-14 fairways hit as well as 13-of-18 greens found in regulation — both tournament bests for Woodland. He took only 28 strokes on the green Saturday, compared to 33 strokes on Friday.
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Three of those birdies came on the front nine: a seven-iron from 175 yards left just seven feet to the pin on the par-4 second hole. Woodland also converted birdie putts of 30 feet and eight feet on the par-3 fourth and par-4 eighth. He birdied the par-5 tenth for the second time this week and added his fifth birdie by sinking a 12 footer on the par-4 14th hole.
“I putted better today, we had it set pretty good,” he said. “A couple of the bogeys were kind of self-made mistakes.”
Woodland said Saturday that despite being five strokes back, he still felt he could win the tournament with a strong round on Sunday.
“I definitely think with a good day tomorrow, it’s possible,” he said. “It’s Sunday at a major. I’ll be out early in front of those guys and hopefully go out and play aggressive early.”