Three-way tie at top as thrilling finale looms

Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:59pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) - The PGA Championship was heading for a gripping finish as Americans Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson and Swede Henrik Stenson held a share of the lead midway through the final round on Sunday.

With birdies abundant on a rain-softened Valhalla Golf Club layout receptive to approach shots, Mickelson, Fowler and Stenson took advantage of a stumbling start by overnight leader Rory McIlroy, the pre-tournament favourite.

Young gun Fowler, a top-five finisher at each of the year's previous three majors, twice held the outright lead on the front nine before being caught each time by his rivals as he reached the turn in three-under 32, 14 under overall.

Stenson, seeking to become the first Swedish male to win a major, was in even better form early on, five birdies in the first 11 holes vaulting him into a share of the lead.

Fan favourite Mickelson, hunting a sixth major title, piled up four birdies on the outward nine to get to 14 under, sinking a curling 10-footer on the ninth green that was met with huge roars from the crowd packed around the green.

With that trio leading the way in the year's final major, British Open champion McIlroy and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were a further two strokes back in a tie for fourth, at 12 under.

McIlroy rebounded from two early bogeys with a birdie at the seventh to reach the turn in one-over 36 while Ilonen was three under for the day after 11 holes.

However, the late starters faced a race against darkness in their bid to finish the 96th PGA Championship on Sunday.   Continued...