Casey joins Johnson at top in congested US PGA title tussle

By Sports Desk August 09, 2020

The competition at the top of the US PGA Championship leaderboard showed little sign of dispersing as Dustin Johnson had Paul Casey for company at the summit through nine holes.

Overnight leader Johnson held a one-stroke advantage heading into Sunday's final round as he aims to add to his sole prior major triumph at the 2016 U.S. Open.

But a number of stars were in hot pursuit and, despite a birdie at the first, Johnson failed to pull clear of the chasing pack before the turn.

A bogey at the third opened the door a little wider for those with serious title interests, but the former world number one bounced back at the next to return to 10 under.

Casey was there, too, by the time Johnson reached the ninth, though, building on scores of 68, 67 and 68 with birdies at the fourth, fifth and 10th.

Cameron Champ and Bryson DeChambeau had each earlier moved into position to challenge the frontrunner.

Champ – a 25-year-old with just two PGA Tour wins to his name – joined Johnson on 10 under and put away a vital 18-foot putt for par at the eighth, but he left himself with an awful lot to do at the following hole and fell two strokes off the pace.

Meanwhile, DeChambeau spectacularly lost momentum just as he briefly pulled level with Johnson, back-to-back bogeys undoing his hard work.

A clutch of others were also in contention, however, with impressive consecutive birdies following the turn giving Jason Day a share of third, one shot back.

Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler were all also on nine under.

Matthew Wolff had been among the same throng following a rapid ascent up the leaderboard – managing three straight birdies from the seventh, then adding an eagle at the 10th – but twice missed achievable putts that would have secured a co-lead before falling away.

Much further down the leaderboard, Brooks Koepka's round was going from bad to worse, with the two-time defending champion falling out of the picture completely.

Having highlighted Johnson's lack of winning major experience on Saturday, Koepka subsequently struggled from the outset and was four over on the front nine, way back on three under for the week.

Related items

  • Westwood takes the lead as DeChambeau produces stunning 370-yard drive Westwood takes the lead as DeChambeau produces stunning 370-yard drive

    Lee Westwood surged into the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, who stole the show with a monstrous 370-yard drive on the sixth.

    English 47-year-old Westwood shot a seven-under 65 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead at 11 under heading into the final day, sitting ahead of DeChambeau (68) and previous leader Corey Conners (71), who are tied for second.

    Keegan Bradley shot a round-best eight-under 64 with his 59th career bogey-free round to move into equal fourth alongside Jordan Spieth (68) at nine under.

    Westwood made his move with five birdies on the front nine on Saturday. He also hit an eagle on the 16th and a birdie on the challenging 18th..

    "The first time I played here I felt 'this was good'," said Westwood, who has plenty of experience playing at Bay Hill.

    "I like the way it makes you shape the ball into some of the fairways. It suits my game. I'm not the longest through the air anymore so it helps when I can use a lot of the fairway."

    DeChambeau, who was the Invitational runner-up in 2018, had the crowds roaring on the 590-yard dog leg par-five sixth hole when he ambitiously succeeded in driving to clear the water in a 370-yard carry.

    The 2020 U.S. Open champion shot a 68, including six birdies, but his monster drive was all the talk, having teased on social media that he would attempt it in the lead-up.

    "I've never had so many people cheering me on to do something pretty cool," the American said.

    "To have that opportunity and execute it was pretty special. Hopefully it's something I can do tomorrow again.

    "I was definitely nervous. I caught it pretty solid. I didn't know how else to react."

    Overnight leader Conners let slip his dominant position but remains in the hunt after two bogeys and three birdies for the round.

    Early leader and 2018 Invitational winner Rory McIlroy slipped to equal seventh after an even-par round.

    Doug Ghim drew level with McIlroy after an outstanding seven-under 65, with the duo joined at seven under by Jazz Janewattananond (69) and Richy Werenski (69).

    Janewattananond made a hole-in-one at the 14th, while Spieth also produced an ace in the third round – his coming at the second.

  • Conners moves clear as McIlroy lurks at Arnold Palmer Invitational, Reed misses cut Conners moves clear as McIlroy lurks at Arnold Palmer Invitational, Reed misses cut

    Corey Conners holds a one-stroke advantage at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after moving clear in the second round as Rory McIlroy stayed within striking distance.

    Conners and McIlroy were tied atop the leaderboard overnight, but the former earned the outright lead through 36 holes in Orlando, Florida on Friday.

    Canadian golfer Conners, whose sole win on the PGA Tour came via the 2019 Texas Open, was almost flawless after carding a three-under-par 69 at Bay Hill.

    Conners used an eagle, two birdies and just one bogey to improve to nine under – a shot ahead of Scotland's 2011 champion Martin Laird (67) – as the 29-year-old earned his second career 36-hole lead/co-lead on Tour.

    "I haven't really been in this position a lot, but I have a lot of confidence in my game and feeling really relaxed the last few days, so try and keep that going,'' said Conners, who eagled the par-five 16th hole in each of the first two rounds – just the sixth player to do so at Bay Hill since 1992.

    "I feel like I have a lot of energy. I had an off week last week and really excited for the weekend.''

    Former world number one McIlroy lost his share of top spot at the halfway stage of the tournament, but the four-time major champion is only two strokes off the pace.

    Winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2018, McIlroy shot a one-under-par 71 to be tied for third alongside Norwegian star Viktor Hovland (68) and Lanto Griffin (68).

    McIlroy needed just 10 putts on the front nine, one shy of his Tour best on nine holes – the 2016 Players Championship. It marked the 14th time he required only 10 putts on nine holes.

    "It could have been the round that I could have shot 74 or 75. I got in with 71 and pretty happy with that,'' McIlroy said post-round.

    U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is six under overall following his second-round 71.

    Former world number one Jordan Spieth (69) – eyeing his first victory since 2017 – is a stroke further back and tied for seventh alongside Justin Rose (68), Paul Casey (69) and Im Sung-jae (70).

    Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton completed a stunning turnaround as he avoided the cut.

    After opening his title defence with a first-round 77, Hatton regrouped by shooting a 67 – a 10-stroke turnaround on Friday.

    Patrick Reed was not so fortunate, the 2018 Masters champion's round of 73 and 74 seeing him finish three over, a shot above the cut line.

  • McIlroy inspired by Tiger as star shoots 66 to earn share of Arnold Palmer lead McIlroy inspired by Tiger as star shoots 66 to earn share of Arnold Palmer lead

    Rory McIlroy channelled Tiger Woods in the opening round as the former world number one impressed on his way to a share of the one-stroke lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    McIlroy's birdie blitz saw the four-time major champion card a near-flawless six-under-par 66 in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

    Winner of the PGA Tour event in 2018, McIlroy holed seven birdies – including five in a row on the back nine – to lift the Northern Irishman to the top of the leaderboard alongside Canada's Corey Conners.

    McIlroy's birdie run from the second to the sixth hole tied the second-longest streak of his career in a round on the PGA Tour, having also managed the feat twice in 2015 (Wells Fargo Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational).

    Reflecting on his bright start at Bay Hill, McIlroy said he was inspired by 15-time major winner and American superstar Woods – who has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on eight occasions throughout his illustrious career.

    Woods is currently recovering after undergoing surgery following a near-fatal single-vehicle crash last week.

    "Obviously a 66 is a great way to start the tournament," said McIlroy, who is without a win since 2019. "I feel like you don't have to do anything special to shoot a good score here. You can be really conservative off the tees if you want to be, so there are a bunch of irons that you can hit off tees.

    "I think the toughest thing about this course is the par-threes and I played them in three under today, so that was a bonus. But I've watched Tiger enough here over the years and the way he played this course was, he played it very conservatively, he took care of the par-fives, and that was usually good enough to get the job done. So I've taken a little bit of a leaf out of his book."

    U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is a shot off the pace following his five-under-par 67, while Jason Kokrak, Byeong Hun An and Sebastian Munoz are a stroke further back.

    Former world number one Jordan Spieth – eyeing his first victory since 2017 – ended the first round in a tie for 15th and four shots behind the leading pair.

    Tyrrell Hatton's title defence got off to a forgettable start after shooting a first-round 77 to be five over the card heading into Friday's second round.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.