Aussies Scott, Day play for Lyle as they chase PGA win

by Jim SLATER
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Adam Scott of Australia plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the 2018 PGA Championship in St Louis, Missouri

Australian contenders Adam Scott and Jason Day are battling in part to win the 100th PGA Championship in tribute to fellow Aussie golfer Jarrod Lyle, who died Wednesday of leukemia.

And they're doing a pretty good job.

Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, fired Saturday's low round, a five-under-par 65, to stand second on 10-under 200, two strokes behind US leader Brooks Koepka after 54 holes at Bellerive Country Club.

World number 10 Day, the 2015 PGA Championship winner, shares sixth in a pack on 202 with four other major champions, including Tiger Woods.

"There are going to be about 10 of us looking for that round of the year," Scott said. "Someone will go out and do it and I'm glad I'm in that position that it could be me."

But the golfer most on their minds this week is their friend Lyle, who battled blood cancer for years, twice thinking he had beaten it only for it to return, leaving behind a wife and two children.

"It would be more than twice the thrill for me," Scott said of what a win would mean Sunday. "But I think no matter who wins tomorrow, if that person has met Jarrod Lyle, they will have felt something with him passing."

The Aussies feel it especially hard. Day was in tears talking about Lyle on Thursday after his opening round.

"It's hard because you sit there and you know him and he's a buddy of yours, and he's not there anymore. He's never going to come back," Day said. "That's the hardest thing to sort of come by.

"I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando. He's a good buddy of mine. It's obviously heartbreaking."

Being away from others touched by the loss in Australia makes it tougher.

"It has been such a difficult thing for us to get our heads around because we've been removed from Jarrod and his family back in Australia and everything happening so suddenly," Scott said.

"I don't even really know if we have all really had time to reflect on it and let it sink in. But I think that a part of everyone is playing for Jarrod out here this week."

Beyond that, the Aussies have some positives of their own to create.

Scott, ranked 76th, needed a special invitation from the PGA of America just to compete in his 70th consecutive major, last missing one at the 2001 US Open. And he has not been in the hunt at a major often since his green jacket win five years ago.

"I'm going to relish it tomorrow because if it's another five, basically you're wheeling me out to pasture," Scott said. "I want to make the most of this and hopefully it's the start of some continued form in the big tournaments."

- 'Juices were flowing' -

Scott took a bogey at 15 but answered with birdies at the par-3 16th and par-5 17th, the same holes Day said were likely to play a pivotl role Sunday.

"Definitely playing 17 the juices were flowing a little bit," Scott said. "I was feeling like I'm in the tournament and certainly has been a while since I've really been feeling that.

"It has been quite a while since I was really in contention. Which has been quite frustrating.

Day expects a grind but hopes to be in the zone.

"It hasn't felt easy but hopefully it comes easy for me tomorrow. Hopefully, I get in the zone, and it just becomes automatic," Day said.

"There's definitely a 64, 65 out there for sure. There's one in me definitely. I know I can do that."

Adam Scott of Australia plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the 2018 PGA Championship in St Louis, Missouri

Jason Day of Australia plays his shot from the 13th tee during the third round of the 2018 PGA Championship in St Louis, Missouri