KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Australian Jason Day used a red-hot run around the turn and a solid finish to seize a two-shot lead over Jordan Spieth after a pulsating third round of low scoring at the PGA Championship on Saturday.
In pursuit of his first major victory after several close calls over the past five years, Day carded 66 in receptive conditions at Whistling Straits to post a 15-under total of 201.
The world number five picked up six shots in six holes from the ninth, including a 13-foot eagle putt at the 11th, and later rebounded from a double-bogey at the 15th by draining a curling 24-footer at the 17th.
He could not break clear of Masters and U.S. Open champion Spieth, who reignited his hopes of a rare third major victory this year by firing a bogey-free 65 on a hot and steamy afternoon highlighted by birdies galore.
“Today was a good day,” said Day, who has recorded nine top-10 finishes in the majors, six of them in the top four.
“There was some mistakes here and there, but overall I hit a lot of good quality iron shots, hit a lot of great drives out there, drove the ball really well. I’m very pleased with how I’m putting.
“So, one more day left. I got to keep pushing forward, keep grinding, keep doing the best I can do out there and see how it goes tomorrow.”
English world number six Justin Rose (68) was a further stroke back at 12 under with South African Branden Grace, who spectacularly holed out from a greenside bunker to birdie the last and card a best-of-the-day 64.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer, winner of the 2010 PGA Championship played at Whistling Straits, drained three long birdie putts to shoot 65 and pull within four shots on a day when the scoring average was 70.6.
Unheralded Australian Matt Jones, two ahead after the storm-delayed second round finished earlier on Saturday, briefly moved three strokes clear before dropping four shots in the final four holes for a 73 and a tie for sixth.
Jones had led by three standing on the ninth tee but bogeyed the hole after pulling his tee shot into a hospitality area well left of the fairway.
“I’m still in it,” said Jones, who won his first PGA Tour title at last year’s Houston Open.
“I didn’t play great today ... golf runs like that, and it got me in the end.”
Day’s lead is tenuous considering the man in second place.
“On the back nine, it was nice to get in the zone,” said world number two Spieth, who is seeking to emulate fellow Americans Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players in the modern era to have won three majors in a single year.
“I’ll go into tomorrow strictly for the history piece of trying to get my name on a different major. It’s a goal of mine to capture all four throughout my career. I’ve got a great opportunity to get the third right now.”
Editing by Andrew Both