Dustin Johnson was one of three players who shot 65, five-under par 70, at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco today to take a one stroke lead into tomorrow’s final round in the PGA Championship, the first of the four major championships of the year in this delayed PGA Tour season due to Covid-19. And that was despite a double-bogey 6 on the par four ninth hole, which used to be a short par five many moons ago.
Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ, the PGA Tour’s longest hitter this year, are tied for second. But there are several top players lurking nearby who still have a chance to win this big one. They include four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who stumbled with three consecutive bogeys in the middle of his back nine today, Colin Morikawa, and journeyman Paul Casey who are two strokes back of Johnson. One back of them are Jason Day, the Mad Scientist Muscleman Bryson DeChambeau, steady Englishman Justin Rose, Daniel Berger, and Tommy Fleetwood. So, Johnson has his work cut out for him if he’s going to get his second major win tomorrow.
Harding Park, with its mass of majestic-looking cypress trees, all which are nestled alongside Lake Mercer, is enough challenge for the best of them. Some of the pin placements today were tucked tight beside sand bunkers with narrow openings on the greens.
In my early years on the PGA Tour, I competed in the Lucky International at Harding Park. The tournament existed only from 1961 to 1969. I don’t recall being so lucky there. But it was a pleasure to play that public golf course, partly due to its beauty.
With so many top PGA Tour players in the lead, tomorrow should provide an interesting tournament for all the viewers, all of whom can only watch it on their televisions since there are no galleries due to COVID-19. Johnson hit half of his fairways today, so that was the only part of his game that was a little off. His irons and putting have been superb. We’ll see how Dustin, the long-hitter who walks like a Hollywood gunslinger, holds up tomorrow with an elite field nipping at his heels.