Rory McIlroy finds himself in a familiar position on the 2014 PGA Championship's final day. Once again standing above everyone else, he can maintain his throne by solidifying his second straight major title.
In July, McIlroy strutted into The Open Championship's last day with a sizable six-stroke lead. Although he played his least memorable round of golf that tournament during the closing 18 holes, he held plenty of wiggle room to escape victorious.
This time around, he can't afford to go through the motions Sunday. Although he resides at 13 under, the top five are all double digits below par. Perennial mainstays Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson are close on his tail, and Bernd Wiesberger has crashed the party as a monumental underdog.
Day 4 is underway, but play has been suspended due to rain. All five of the golfers perched on top of the leaderboard are still waiting their turn to tee off, and their tee times will likely get pushed back further due to the inclement weather.
Keep track of all the action here with this updated leaderboard.
And the Winner Is...?
With 18 holes remaining, the PGA Championship remains far too close to call.
Weeks after terrorizing the competition in England, McIlroy continues his scorching-hot streak at Valhalla Golf Club. The world's premier golfer nailed three birdies down the closing stretch of Day 3, protecting his slim edge entering Sunday.
It's scary to think about, but Yahoo Sports' Shane Bacon suggests that McIlroy is in first despite not delivering his best output:
McIlroy is still leading, yes, thanks to three birdies over his last four holes on Saturday at Valhalla. Rory's golf swing wasn't nearly as sharp on Saturday, missing wide a few times off the tee and hitting some not-so-solid approach shots to greens. When Rory made his second bogey of the day on the 12th it really looked like he could let this lead slip away considering all the names charging up the leaderboard, but Rory buckled down and closed out his round much like he has each day of this incredible three tournament run.
Rory has now birdied his final hole all three days this week at Valhalla, changing a good round to a great one, and for Saturday, a decent one into an acceptable one.
The 25-year-old now must bear the weight of the world on his shoulders in his quest for a fourth major title. He'd become just the fourth player to win the British Open and PGA Championship in the same year while putting himself on a trajectory to become an all-time great.
Ever since he squandered a late lead at Augusta at 21 years old, McIlroy has sworn to remain aggressive throughout every hole to avoid a similar letdown. He rehashed that early career blunder with ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski.
"I've went protection mode once in my career and it was the 2011 Masters," McIlroy said. "That didn't work out very well. So I said to myself I'll never do that again."
Not having the option of operating in maintenance mode, he realizes an average effort can cost him first place as a potent field breathes down his neck. His second major crown of 2014 is far from in the bag.
McIlroy's most unlikely challenger, Wiesberger, surprisingly enters Sunday one stroke behind at 12 under. To call him an underdog is an understatement. Based on his past production playing with the big boys, a victory would have Hollywood executives reeling to obtain the rights to his story.
The 28-year-old Austrian has participated in five previous majors, missing the cut four times. It'd take the meltdown of the century for him not to walk away with his best major placement, as his previous best is a tie for 64th place.
Anyone who enjoys an upset will certainly cheer for Wiesberger Sunday afternoon.
Let's not forget the other guys, who have been there before. Grasping for life Saturday, Mickelson looked down and out before delivering four birdies through the last five holes. When Lefty finds his stride, he's a dangerous adversary who must be tracked with the championship on the line.
Fowler hopes to avoid a developing pattern of finishing just short. He earned fifth in the Masters and tallied two runner-up ranks at the British Open and U.S. Open. Currently in third, another top-five finish would prove his consistency but ultimately give him four "close, but no cigar" finishes.
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