Koepka eyes third major title in final-round PGA drama

by Jim SLATER
Brooks Koepka is looking for a second major title of the year after winning at June's US Open

Two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka took aim at his third major victory as leaders prepared to tee off in Sunday's final round of the 100th PGA Championship.

But other six major winners, including 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, were lurking within four strokes as an afternoon back-nine shootout was set to unfold at Bellerive Country Club.

"Everyone is going to have to shoot low rounds," Woods said. "It's soft. It's gettable and you can't just go out there and make a bunch of pars. You're going to have to make some birdies."

Fourth-ranked Koepka, who matched the tournament record with a seven-under 63 on Friday, fired a 66 Saturday to lead on 12-under 198 after 54 holes, two strokes ahead of Australia's Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion.

It's the first time the 28-year-old American has led a major alone entering the final round. Twice in that situation in PGA Tour events, Koepka did not come out the winner, but he is confident entering Sunday's showdown.

"I'm just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I'm supposed to, I should win the golf tournament," Koepka said.

"I feel like I'm extremely confident. I like the way I'm hitting the ball."

Koepka became the first golfer since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win consecutive US Open crowns in June when he defended the title at Shinnecock.

Woods, in the eighth month of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery after years of back injuries, was in a pack four strokes adrift.

Others in that group included 2009 British Open winner Stewart Cink, 2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day of Australia, second-ranked defending champion Justin Thomas, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Ireland's Shane Lowry.

- 'Star power' -

"There's a lot of star power, and it should be. It's a major championship," Koepka said. "You should see the best players in the world come to the top. And that's what you have, and that's what's going to make this event very exciting."

Woods has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and has not won any event in five years, but the 42-year-old American excited huge crowds Saturday with five birdies in the first eight holes.

"I've got to shoot a low round," Woods said. "And hopefully it will be enough."

A trio of players seeking a first major title shared third on 201, including Americans Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland and Spaniard Jon Rahm.

Scott and Day have special inspiration this week after the death of Jarrod Lyle, the Aussie golfer who died Wednesday of leukemia at age 36. He had battled cancer for years, twice having thought it was gone only for it to return.

"It would be more than twice the thrill for me," Scott said of winning in tribute to Lyle. "But I think no matter who wins, if that person has met Jarrod Lyle, then they will have felt something with him passing this week.

"I think that a part of everyone is playing for Jarrod out here this week."

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, needing only the PGA to complete a career Grand Slam, shared 28th on 206 and appeared unlikely to make a charge at history in the final round.

Brooks Koepka is looking for a second major title of the year after winning at June's US Open