Oak Hill Country Club finally woke up and provided a much tougher test for the leaders of the 2013 PGA Championship on Saturday.
As a result, the lead is exactly where it was when the day began, albeit with a different golfer holding it. Some Saturday winners surged up the leaderboard. Some of the day's losers drifted or absolutely tumbled down it. Others managed to hold their place and remain in contention for a major triumph on Sunday afternoon.
As Oak Hill stiffened, there were no historic rounds or bevy of under-par efforts. There were, however, plenty of solid showings from experienced golfers mixed in with poor performances from others who struggled under the pressure of a third round in a major.
There are 18 holes left to be played, and the winners from Saturday are in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy. Unfortunately for the losers, most of them are just along for the ride.
After getting off to a rough start, Jim Furyk gathered himself nicely to post a two-under 68. As a result, the veteran owns the lead outright at nine under heading into the final round of the PGA Championship.
Furyk suffered back-to-back bogeys on the second and third holes. He then rallied with four birdies in the next nine holes to wrestle the lead away from Jason Dufner on the back nine.
The former U.S. Open champion made a great up-and-down par from the 18th fairway after a wayward tee shot to ensure his sole possession of the lead.
The 43-year-old will try to win his second career major from the final pairing on Sunday, a position few thought he would be in after a subpar 2013.
Of the three players who began the day at seven under and two shots behind Dufner, only Furyk managed to shoot under par.
Things couldn't have gone worse for Justin Rose.
After opening his round with a par, the reigning U.S. Open champion suffered two bogeys and a pair of doubles in the next four holes and simply wasn't heard from again.
After firing a 29 on the front nine on Friday, Rose went out in 42 Saturday, an unimaginable 13-stroke difference that ended his hopes to win a second major in 2013 after waiting nearly 15 years to win his first one.
Rose managed to keep things together on the back, but his seven-over 77 turned a three-shot 36-hole deficit into a deep 10-shot hole heading into Sunday’s final round.
Despite playing the first 36 holes in two under, Jonas Blixt has been flying under the radar. Not anymore.
The Swede fired a bogey-free, four-under 66 and will find himself among the final pairings Sunday as a result.
Blixt punctuated his round with an unbelievable birdie from the deep rough on the 18th hole that so far is the shot of the tournament. Playing from the trees, he somehow avoided trouble with his approach shot, which found its way onto the green within a couple feet of the hole. It was the perfect stamp on one of the finest rounds of the day.
Blixt claimed his second career PGA Tour title earlier this year at the Greenbrier Classic. With a strong showing Sunday, he might well add a first major title to that accomplishment.
After a disappointing six-over 76, Matt Kuchar’s wait for his first career major triumph is going to last at least a little bit longer.
A birdie on his opening hole got him within a shot of the lead, but Kuchar bogeyed five of the next 10 to tumble down the leaderboard.
In the first 36 holes of the event, the popular American had only one bogey, which came on the 18th hole of the second round.
Unfortunately for Kuchar, the bad scores came in bunches Saturday, especially on the front, where he doubled the par-three third and suffered three more bogeys. He went out in 39, essentially ending his championship hopes.
After being tantalizingly close to the lead, Kuchar will begin the final round eight shots back of Furyk.
Midway through his second round, Rory McIlroy looked as if he would be a cut casualty. After a strong three-under 67 Saturday, he’s thinking about a successful defense of his 2012 PGA Championship.
McIlroy birdied the final two holes, including a chip in on the difficult 18th, and sits at three under for the tournament and right in the mix for a third career major.
After struggling on the back nine this week, McIlroy's third round would have been even better if not for a bogey on No. 10, his only misstep of the day.
Should Rory continue the rally and defend his title, it will be an amazing turnaround to a dreadful season that has seen the Irishman fail to win a single event or compete in a major prior to this week.
Starting the day at three under and in contention for his first major title, Sergio Garcia let it slip away on Saturday yet again.
The Spaniard was a human roller-coaster ride and struggled to a five-over 75 as a result. Garcia had two double bogeys in a three-hole stretch and committed five other bogeys along the way.
The enigmatic golfer managed four birdies on his round, include two in the final three holes, but the damage was already done with his front-nine 40.
After teasing us with solid play through 36 holes, Garcia will start Sunday at two over and 11 shots out of the lead.
After making a birdie putt on the 18th Friday to make the cut on the number, Dustin Johnson made the most of his opportunity to the play the weekend.
Johnson, who struggled to a three over through 36 holes, finally found his major form. He shot a five-under 65 to climb the leaderboard.
At two under for the championship, he’s unlikely to challenge for his first career major Sunday. But his third-round form was terrific and will help Johnson move up the FedExCup rankings as the playoffs near.
The American allowed only one bogey against six birdies and capped his impressive round with two strong par saves on 17 and 18 to post the best round of the day.
Webb Simpson is among those who suffered at the par-four fifth hole Saturday.
Oak Hill had been attacked by many of the world’s best golfers during the championship’s first two rounds.
The layout’s challenging fifth hole, however, exacted a strong measure of revenge against the third-round leaders.
The par-four hole, fronted by large rocks and a water hazard, was a torture for the top quarter of the leaderboard. It claimed double bogey after double bogey.
The golfers the fifth punched in the gut included 36-hole leader Jason Dufner and Justin Rose. Both took doubles on the hole. Only Dufner managed to hold his round together.
Webb Simpson, who fired a 64 on Friday, suffered a triple bogey and finished his day with a three-over 73.
The pain on the fifth was all too evident. Golfers hit the green with too much spin and then watched as the ball rolled into the rocks, where a subsequent drop was demanded.
Like Johnson, Kevin Streelman reversed his difficult 36-hole start with a solid four-under that sent him charging up the leaderboard.
In fact, if not for a bogey on the 18th hole, the American would have joined Johnson in shooting the low round of the day.
Nevertheless, Streelman did manage six birdies, including a stretch of three in the final five holes of his front nine, and moved up more than 40 spots on the leaderboard.
Streelman captured his first-ever PGA Tour victory earlier this year at the Tampa Bay Championship. He has put himself in position to add a top-10 finish in a major championship to a solid 2013.
Few expected Phil Mickelson to go deep enough to get back into contention on Saturday.
That said, no one could have suspected he would go so far the other way that he sits one spot out of dead last heading into the final round.
Mickelson suffered a triple bogey on his outward nine and a double bogey on his inward half en route to a head-scratching eight-over 78 that leaves him at 10 over for the championship. At no point in the round did Lefty seem comfortable with his swing; he sent the ball flying all over Oak Hill.
Perhaps still exhausted after his British Open triumph less than a month ago, when Mickelson finished his third round he appeared a beaten man who would rather be anywhere other than Oak Hill.
Henrik Stenson continues to play some of the best golf of the summer. For the second straight major, he is poised to win the first of his career; he finished second to Mickelson in last month’s British Open. After battling his game for much of the past two years, Stenson is in great form.
The talented Swede shot a steady one-under 69 and will enter Sunday’s final round only two shots behind Jim Furyk at seven under.
He managed to avoid the type of trouble that hampered the likes of Adam Scott and Dufner. His quiet but effective round included three birdies against only two bogeys.
For his effort, Stenson will play in the second-to-last group alongside countryman Blixt.
After playing in Sunday’s final pairing in the past two major championships, Hunter Mahan made sure he wouldn’t be there again...with authority.
Starting the day at two under and quietly in contention just as he was at the U.S. Open and British Open earlier this summer, Mahan blew up to the tune of eight-over 78 and will not be in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.
Low-lighted by a double bogey on the devilish fifth hole, Mahan went out in five-over 40 and then limped home in three over to play himself out of the tournament.
The American, who recently celebrated the birth of his first child, joined Mickelson and Martin Kaymer in firing 78, only two shots shy of the worst round of the day.
Yes, Jason Dufner played his third round one-over and lost his 36-hole lead to Furyk.
But considering the pressure he was under after that 63 on Friday and the difficult double bogey he suffered on the fifth hole, we see his 71 as a win.
The easygoing Dufner clearly did not have the form of his second round, but the two-time PGA Tour winner held his game together and made a stirring par from the fairway on the 18th hole to stay within a shot of the lead at eight under.
That effort also got him into Sunday's final-round pairing. He should find comfort playing alongside the equally laid-back Furyk.
Martin Kaymer didn't only play his way out of the championship; he fired one of the worst rounds of the day in the process.
Entering the third round at four under, Kaymer shot a head-scratching eight-over 78 to tumble further down the leaderboard than any other 36-hole challenger.
The former PGA Champion bogeyed eight holes on his round and added a triple late in his round for good measure. If not for three birdies on the round, including one at the first hole to get to five under, Kaymer would have shot the worst round of the day.
Either way, at four over for the tournament, the talented German won't be adding a second Wanamaker trophy to his case on Sunday after such a dreadful round.