Jason Day is closer than he’s ever been to a breakthrough major championship victory after the 27-year-old forged to a two-shot lead heading to the final round of the US PGA Championship.
Considered a major champ in waiting, having already collected nine top-ten finishes and three seconds from his 20 major starts, Day rode a rollercoaster in round three.
His wild ride included eight birdies, an eagle, two bogeys and a double bogey at Whistling Straits as he carded a six-under-66 to move to 15-under for the tournament.
But while the world No.5’s two-shot buffer is nice, it comes over world No.2 Jordan Spieth who came from the clouds with six birdies in his last eight holes to shoot 65 and sit in second at 13-under.
Spieth is looking to be just the third man in history to win three majors in the same year with Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods having already won the Masters and the US Open.
Day has now led into the final round of the last three majors: He was tied with three others at the US Open and two others at the British Open and both times fell short. Day stresses those experiences have only made him stronger. “I’ve been here before so I kind of know what to expect,” Day said.
“My confidence level is high and I’m enjoying myself on the golf course, rather than in previous positions that I’ve had in major championships.
“I’ve viewed them as very stressful and kind of hard to go out and play the next day but I’m enjoying myself, it’s been fun to be in pressure situations and it’s good to have the lead.”
South African Branden Grace (64) and England’s Justin Rose (68) share third at 12-under, while Day’s fellow Australian Matt Jones faded late, dropping four shots in his last five holes to shoot 73 and sit tied sixth at 10-under with American Tony Finau.
German star Martin Kaymer (65), the winner at Whistling Straits in 2010 is fifth alone at 11-under.
Day was trading birdies and bogeys early in his round before going on a tear.
Starting on the ninth he produced six straight threes on his card for four birdies and an eagle and moved up to 16-under, bringing scoring records under scrutiny. But he missed the 15th green left from the fairway into a bunker and failed to get the ball out on his first attempt, eventually taking double.
An unlucky par on 16 was followed by a 27-foot birdie on the 17th that produced an almighty roar from Day and ensured he kept clear of a charging Spieth.
Day knows Spieth is his nearest rival but is wary of getting into a matchplay battle.
“I’ve just got to suck it up and say I’m not playing against only Jordan,” Day said.
“You can never count him out right now with how he’s playing so with my confidence level and his stellar play, I feel like it’s going to be an exciting finish tomorrow.”
“I’m hoping they set the course up where you can attack it and don’t count the guys out behind us, as well, because there’s especially a lot of long hitters.
“If he goes out and wins tomorrow from him putting well, then he deserves it but I’m going to give him a fight.
Jones looked a potential winner at 14-under with four to play but dropped four shots coming in. He is still close enough if good enough.
Cameron Smith shot a two-under-70 to move to four under.