- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2011

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Jason Dufner has never won a tour event. Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele are playing in their first major championship.

Hard to tell at the PGA Championship.

The no-names were holding up just fine on a day for going low at Atlanta Athletic Club. Dufner approached the turn Saturday tied for the lead with Steele, while Bradley was just one shot back in what is developing as the theme of the year’s final major in the sweltering Deep South.

Who are these guys anyway?

Tiger Woods, defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer and several other stars are watching from home, failing to make the cut. U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who came into the week as the favorite, struggled to a 74 with his ailing wrist and won’t be a factor on Sunday.

Into the void stepped players recognizable only to the most ardent golf fans.

Dufner, who started the day tied with Bradley for the 36-hole lead, showed no signs of fading. The 34-year-old started with six straight pars before rolling in a birdie at the seventh to push his score to 6 under.

Steele, playing three groups ahead of the final pairing, birdied five of the first 10 holes to move into a share of the top spot — despite a double bogey at the seventh when he needed two putts to stay on the green, then two more to get down, after driving into a swale on the left.

Bradley, the nephew of LGPA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, also had a double bogey on his card after a jittery start. He drove his first shot into a bunker, did the same with the second and wound up taking 6. But the 25-year-old steadied himself with three birdies and was even for the day, just a shot off the lead at 5 under.

There were some recognizable faces lurking near the top. Jim Furyk was also a stroke back, finally showing some familiar form in what has been a largely disappointing season.

Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker, both seeking their first major title, were three shots off the lead. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel became a factor with a 4-under 66. David Toms, who won the PGA the last time it came to Atlanta in 2001, went even lower with a 65. Phil Mickelson was still in the mix, shooting a 69 that left gave him an even-par 210 through three rounds.

Schwartzel posted a bogey-free round that left him at 208.

“The course is just very penalizing,” the South African said. “I just played a little bit more — I want to say conservative maybe — but more clever. A few of the holes that were inviting me the first two rounds, I took with a bit more caution.”

Toms was sparked by an eagle at the 12th. He followed with birdies at 13 and 14, then made another at the tough closing hole when a 5-iron from 190 yards barely cleared the water.

“I thought I got it in there pretty tight,” Toms said. “But obviously, the way the crowd oohed and aahed up there, I was glad to get over the water.”

He won his only major title with a gutsy call at that same hole in 2001. Clinging to a one-shot lead over Mickelson, Toms chose to lay up short of the water with his second shot. He knocked a wedge 12 feet from the hole and made the par putt to hold off Lefty.

Toms started feeling good vibes as he walked up to the 15th, where there’s a plaque marking his most memorable shot from 2001 — a hole-in-one.

“People were saying stuff in the crowd about doing it again, that kind of thing, and you flash black to this time, this week, 10 years ago,” he said. “A lot of memories for sure. The golf course is different. The golf course if much more demanding, so I have to play extremely well.”

Mickelson is the last American to win a major at the 2010 Masters. Since then, international players have captured six in a row, the longest U.S. drought in the modern Grand Slam era.

Luke Donald, the world’s top-ranked player, closed within a shot of the lead until a brutal finish. He drove into a bunker at the 18th and had no choice but to blast out into the fairway. Then, going at the flag a little too aggressively, he dunked his third shot in the water and wound up taking double bogey.

He settled for 68 and a 209 total, leaving him five shots off the lead.

McIlroy went the wrong way on Moving Day, but he did catch a break at the par-3 17th. His tee shot landed on a rock wall along the bunker, bounced at least 50 feet in the air and came down on the green. He smiled and made par.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide