PGA Championship R3: Jimmy Walker pips Jason Day for 54-hole lead
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 01/08/16 1:42am
Jimmy Walker staged an impressive recovery from an uncertain front nine to retain the lead at the PGA Championship when the third round finally concluded on Sunday.
Walker shared the halfway lead with Robert Streb, but the pair were still on the practice range preparing for their third rounds on Saturday when play was suspended due to the threat of lightning in the area.
But the players were unable to get back on the Baltusrol course, and the leading groups finally resumed early on Sunday morning with the prospect of having to play 36 holes on the final day, assuming the further predicted thunderstorms held off.
Amid periods of heavy rain, Walker stumbled to the turn two-over for the day after dropping shots at the third, fifth and eighth holes although he did manage a welcome birdie at the sixth, converting a delightful approach to five feet.
Another superb second to the 11th set up a birdie which he followed with a perfect putt from 25 feet at the next, and he regained a share of the lead with defending champion Jason Day with another gain at 15.
And with the Australian earning the clubhouse lead on 10-under, Walker hit the par-five 18th in two and calmly two-putted for his fourth birdie of the back nine, capping a two-under 68.
Day had earlier prompted the biggest cheer of the day when he followed five opening pars with an unlikely birdie at the sixth, where he holed a monster putt from 75 feet from the front edge of the green.
The world No 1 picked up another shot at the ninth, and he was content to grind out the pars after the turn until breaking the run with a tidy four at the last to close out a composed 67.
"We just didn't really know what was going on with the weather, but thankfully it let up and I'm glad we got the third round in," said Day, who is looking to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend the title since it became a strokeplay event.
"Patience was key and I played some good golf so looking forward to the fourth round."
Brooks Koepka defied an ankle injury to vault into a share of third as the American also kept a bogey off his card in a four-under 66, and he was joined on nine-under par by Open champion Henrik Stenson.
The Swede was level par for the round after 10 holes, but he started to find a good rhythm with his irons and almost holed his approach to the 11th before adding further birdies at 15 and 18 to card a third consecutive 67.
"I was struggling with my long game but the putter was behaving better so I'm happy to come in with that score," Stenson said. "I think this 67 was better than the previous two so I just hope I can pick up some timing with my long game."
Streb slipped to seven-under after a disappointing 72, while William McGirt is also four off the lead after taking a little gloss off a 66 with a six at the last, where he thinned a bunker escape from the fairway and his ball cannoned into the lip and hopped into the adjacent trap.
Tyrrell Hatton emerged as the leading British contender when he returned a 66 despite a double-bogey at the 10th, as birdies at 12, 13, 17 and 18 lifted the Englishman to five-under par.