SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — It looks like a splash to the finish.
Jimmy Walker will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the 98th PGA Championship after he finally finished his storm-delayed third round late Sunday morning.
More than half of the 86-man field came back Sunday with their third round unfinished, including 10 players—and the leaders—who had not begun their final round. The rain held off for at Baltusrol for a spell but returned as Walker and the final groups played the finishing holes. They are scheduled to begin their final round at 3:16 p.m.
The players will play preferred lies in the final round, the first time that has ever happened in a PGA Championship. It’s a necessity due to the sloppy conditions and the mud that collects on the golf ball and sends shots off-line.
Walker has held or shared the lead after all three rounds. After 54 holes, he was at 11 under par, one stroke ahead of defending PGA champion Jason Day. Brooks Koepka and British Open champ Henrik Stenson stood at 9 under. Two shots behind them were William McGirt, Hideki Matsuyama and Robert Streb, who posted 63 in the second round.
Walker remains confident going into the finale.
“I made a few loose swings here and there on the front nine and finally settled in and made a good swing into 6 and it felt good,” Walker said. “I said, Man, let’s just keep trusting that. And I started making quality swings after that.”
Day said the conditions will be challenging.
“For the most part, it wasn’t too bad out there,” he said. “The only thing you have to worry about when it rains is the moisture that gets between the clubface and the ball can shoot it off in different directions. That obviously makes it tougher to control the shot. “I think I played pretty good today. I gave myself some opportunities to really shoot a low one, but unfortunately didn’t really take advantage of them. Jimmy got in at 11, so we’re all chasing him.” As for the unusual move of playing lift, clean and place—a common occurrence in regular PGA Tour events but not in major championships—players seemed to be in favor of it.
“I think it’s a smart move,” Walker said. “It’s pretty wet out there, they don’t know what the weather is going to do. I don’t think it gives you a crazy advantage. It’s not going to change anything.”
Said Stenson, “It’s wet but the course is holding up better than I thought. Given how much rain we had yesterday, I thought it was going to be even wetter.”