We’re heading to the weekend at the PGA Championship, and what do we know so far? Plenty. Let’s dive in with what you need to keep your eye on while you settle in Saturday with the season’s last major.
Kevin Kisner, American hero
Who’s Kevin Kisner, you ask, aside from the dude who’s co-leading the PGA Championship at -8 (along with Hideki Matsuyama)? Why, just one of the greatest American golfers you’ll find, and we say that not just because of his skill at the game. Kisner got suspended by his own club for golf-cart racing in this video:
That, friends, is the kind of player we need more of in this sport. Let’s hope we see more of him. We certainly will over the weekend; he heads into the weekend on a serious wave. In 11 prior majors, his best finish is a T12 at the 2015 U.S. Open.
Grand Slam update: not great
Jordan Spieth is in pursuit of a career Grand Slam, and if he’s going to do it, he’ll need a beyond-heroic charge over the weekend. He bogeyed 18 to finish at 3-over, 11 strokes back of the lead. The low point for him came at the 10th hole where he visited every tree on the course. He did a bit of impromptu landscaping to give himself a better lie on one shot, but it didn’t much help:
Spieth believes he’ll have 30 more chances to win this tournament and complete the career Grand Slam. It looks like he’ll need at least one.
Rocketing up the leaderboard
In sharp contrast to Thursday’s “who’s that?” leaderboard, Friday turned to Saturday with some familiar, and serious, contenders working their way up the line. Chief among those was Matsuyama, who may finally be ready to claim that major that everyone’s expected he’d get. A 7-under 64 catapulted Matsuyama (the best player never to have won a major?) to the top of the leaderboard.
Count 2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day (6-under) among that number, too, whose group scrambled to finish Friday before darkness set in. While Day was finishing up on 17, playing partner Dustin Johnson (2-over) hustled to 18 to tee off before play was suspended. Their group finished in virtual darkness, putting off having to show back up early Saturday morning to complete one measly hole.
The PGA Championship is historically friendly to first-time winners; six of the past seven winners snared their first (and, to date, only) major at this event. The PGA has been held 98 times. Of those 98 winners, 37 only have one major win to their name. And of the top 30 players on the leaderboard, only three — Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson — have a major. How much will that factor into Sunday afternoon?
After rains delayed play at Quail Hollow for 90 minutes on Friday afternoon, the greens softened up and the divots became more pelt-like. The course expects rain overnight and then again late in the afternoon on Saturday; longer-range forecasts indicate that there’s the possibility of heavy rain right around, uh, the conclusion of Sunday’s round. So, bring either your umbrellas or a touch of patience, folks.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.