American Nick Watney broke free of the chasing pack to open up a three-stroke lead after the third round of the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on Saturday.
Watney made eight birdies and two bogeys in a superb round of 66 to head into the final day leading at 13-under-par 203 after a perfect sunny afternoon on the shores of Lake Michigan that proved ideal for low scoring.
More than 50 players finished under par with nine within five strokes of Watney and each of the top six chasing their first majors, setting the stage for a dramatic finale to the last major of the year.
“There’s some really good players that haven’t won a major,” Watney said. “You’ve got to start somewhere and hopefully tomorrow will be my day.
“At this point it’s just another golf tournament. I think that’s the best way for me to look at it. Obviously it’s not but I just need to go out there and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Briton Rory McIlroy underlined his reputation as one of the top emerging players in world golf with a 67 to end the round at 10 under, tied for second with big-hitting American Dustin Johnson (67).
The 21-year-old Northern Irishman is playing in just his ninth major but has twice finished tied for third, at last year’s PGA and this year’s British Open.
“I definitely have a chance,” he said. “But there’s so many other great players on the leaderboard as well.”
China’s Liang Wenchong shot a flawless round of eight under 64 to better the course record jointly held by Darren Clarke and Miguel-Angel Jimenez and join Australia’s Jason Day (66) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (67) at nine under.
Australia’s Steve Elkington, who won the PGA Championship 15 years ago, wound back the clock to reach eight under and join the American trio of Jim Furyk (70), Zach Johnson (69) and Jason Dufner (69).