US PGA Championship: Justin Thomas wins maiden major at Quail Hollow

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Justin Thomas won his first major with a thrilling two-shot victory at the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

The American, 24, trailed leader Kevin Kisner by two shots going into the final round but hit a three-under-par 68 to win on eight under.

Francesco Molinari (67), Patrick Reed (67) and Louis Oosthuizen (70) finished in a three-way tie for second.

Thomas made six birdies in his round including a spectacular pair on holes 10 and 13.

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McIlroy could miss the rest of season

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy might not play again in 2017 as he continues to struggle with the rib injury which has limited him to 13 tournaments in a winless season.

McIlroy shot a closing 68 to end the US PGA on one over par, and has now gone three years without a major victory.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said McIlroy, who suffered the injury testing equipment over the winter.

“You might not see me until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time. It really depends.”

McIlroy came into the US PGA as the pre-tournament favourite on the back of top-five finishes in his last two starts and a brilliant record at the host venue of Quail Hollow, including two wins and a course record of 61.

However, the 28-year-old was never in contention for a first major success since the 2014 US PGA at Valhalla and now faces the dilemma of whether to try and win the FedEx Cup – and the $10m bonus that comes with it – for the second year running.

“I can go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off the course I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,” explained the Northern Irishman.

“The inside of my left arm goes numb. So I don’t know what to do. I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward.”

McIlroy began the week 43rd in the FedEx Cup rankings and needs to be in the top 30 to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship in late September.

The play-offs get under way with the Northern Trust Open on 24 August and McIlroy is the defending champion of the Dell Technologies Championship the following week.

However, he already has one eye on next April’s Masters, which he needs to win to complete the career grand slam.

FedEx Cup dilemma

“I feel like I’m capable of playing well enough to give myself a chance in it,” McIlroy said of the FedEx Cup. “At the same time, April is a long way away. That’s the next big thing on my radar.

“I feel like I have a sense of, not duty, but I’ve missed a lot of time already. If I’m capable of playing, I feel like why shouldn’t you.

“But then at the same time if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play. It’s a Catch-22.”

McIlroy took six weeks off after losing out in a play-off for the South African Open in January and also missed the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Memorial Tournament.

“I felt like we took as much time as we needed to at the start of the year,” added McIlroy, who will seek the advice of sports scientist Steve McGregor in Northern Ireland in the next few days.

“It felt okay through the Masters and I switched it off for a couple of weeks because I was getting married, going on honeymoon. Then once I started practising again, I didn’t build up the volume gradually. I went from zero to hitting balls for three or four hours a day. That aggravated it a little bit.

“I just haven’t allowed it the time to fully heal. I wanted to play the season. I feel like I’m capable of playing well and winning and putting rounds together. If I want to challenge on a more consistent basis, I need to get 100 per cent healthy. I want to get back into that winner’s circle.”

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US PGA Championship: Kevin Kisner one shot clear after Quail Hollow third round

Kevin Kisner

Kevin Kisner will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the US PGA Championship after a one-over-par 72 in his third round at Quail Hollow.

Kisner wobbled on some of the closing holes but finished on seven under, a shot ahead of fellow American Chris Stroud and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama

Stroud carded a level-par 71 while Matsuyama, who started level with Kisner, slipped back with a 73.

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth finished four over and three over respectively.

Despite firing a 71, it effectively ends American Spieth’s hopes of breaking Tiger Woods’ record as the youngest career Grand Slam champion as he will begin the final round 10 shots adrift of Kisner.

Another American, Justin Thomas, made a two-under 69 to tie for fourth alongside South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen who shot 71.

Former US PGA champion Jason Day carded a quadruple bogey eight on the 18th to fall from four under to level par, eight off the lead.

England’s Paul Casey finished bogey, bogey, double bogey to drop back to level par but remains the highest placed British player.

Green Mile bites leaders

Kisner’s consistency had seen him finish as co-leader in the opening two rounds and he continued that until a bogey on the 12th ended a run of 25 holes without dropping a shot.

He recovered with birdies on 14 and 15 to stretch his lead and move to 10 under.

But on 16 – the first of Quail Hollow’s fearsome closing stretch nicknamed the ‘Green Mile – he found the water and made double bogey.

That took the world number 25 back to eight under and briefly level with Stroud before the latter bogeyed the 17th moments later and did the same on 18.

Kisner made par on 17 but on the final hole hit his second shot into a stream only for it to fortunately bounce out and into the rough.

The American could only make bogey though which saw his lead cut back to one shot.

“I didn’t make the putts I’ve been making the first two days and had just a terrible finish there,” said Kisner.

“It feels easy until you smack one in the water and then it seems hard again.”

McIlroy and Spieth fade

The build-up to this year’s event was heavily focussed on McIlroy and Spieth with the Northern Ireland player favourite at Quail Hollow – where he holds the course record – and the American bidding to beat that record held by compatriot Woods.

Neither had threatened the top of the leaderboard in the opening rounds but day three was where their challenges ended.

McIlroy said he required “two 67s” to have a “really good chance” after finishing his first 36 holes on two over, but instead hit a two-over-par 73 which included five bogeys.

“It was sort of the same as the first couple of rounds,” McIlroy said. “I have been struggling to get anything going.”

Spieth played a better level-par round which included three consecutive birdies on the back nine before being spoiled by a double bogey six on the 18th hole.

Woods was aged 24 years, seven months and 25 days when he completed the full set of majors and Spieth will be older than that when he returns for the US PGA – the only major he is yet to win – when it moves to May in 2018.

“I didn’t have it written in a diary from when I was young that I need to win a career Grand Slam as the youngest ever. That wasn’t the goal,” Spieth said.

“The PGA Championship I think is going to be the toughest for me. I think I will play this tournament worse than the other three majors just in the way that it’s set up.”

US PGA Championship 2017
Venue: Quail Hollow, Charlotte Dates: 10-13 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website. Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on website and mobile app. Click for full times.
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US PGA Championship 2017: Tee times for the third round at Quail Hollow

Kevin Kisner

2017 US PGA Championship on the BBC
Venue: Quail Hollow Dates: 10-13 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website. Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on website and mobile app. Click for full times.

Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Kisner share the US PGA Championship lead on eight-under-par after a rain-affected second round at Quail Hollow.

England’s Paul Casey is the closest British player to the leaders on three-under and he will tee off alongside Americans Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.

The third round will played in groups of three after some players had to return to the course on Saturday to finish their second rounds.

Third round tee times – Saturday, 12 August

All times BST. US player unless stated.

14:50 C Howell III, C Gribble, JB Holmes

15:00 S Kodaira (Jpn), A Scott (Aus), K Chappell

15:10 S O’Hair, C Hoffman, K Kraft

15:20 M Leishman (Aus), B Horschel, Jason Dufner

15:30 R Henley, P Perez, W Simpson

15:40 R Sterne (SA), KT Kim (Kor), H Tanihara (Jpn)

15:50 L Westwood (Eng), T Olesen (Den), D Lingmerth (Swe)

16:00 T Fleetwood (Eng), V Singh (Fij), J Spieth

16:10 J Lovemark, J Smith (Eng), I Poulter (Eng)

16:20 J Rahm (Spa), S Stricker, M Kuchar

16:30 L Glover, J Kokrak, A Lahiri (Ind)

16:40 H Stenson (Swe), K Bradley, Z Johnson

16:50 J Herman, C Schwartzel (SA), D Johnson

17:00 R Streb, D Frittelli (SA), C Wood (Eng)

17:10 B Harman, B Haas, B DeChambeau

17:20 J Hahn, O Uresti, R McIlroy (NI)

17:30 A Noren (Swe), T Finau, D Summerhays

17:40 G DeLaet (Can), P Cantlay, S Lowry (Ire)

18:00 G Woodland, P Reed, B Cauley

18:10 R Moore, S Brown, C Reavie

18:20 G Murray, S Kang (Kor), B Koepka

18:30 DA Points, A Byeong-Hun (Kor), R Fox (NZ)

18:40 R Fowler, J Thomas, P Casey (En)

18:50 C Stroud, F Molinari (Ita), L Oosthuizen (SA)

19:00 K Kisner, H Matsuyama (Jpn), J Day (Aus)

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US PGA Championship 2017: Play suspended with Kevin Kisner two shots clear

Play suspended

US PGA Championship 2017
Venue: Quail Hollow, Charlotte Dates: 10-13 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website. Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on website and mobile app. Full BBC schedule.

Kevin Kisner held a two-shot lead when play was suspended during the US PGA Championship second round because of potentially “dangerous” weather.

American Kisner carded a second straight four-under-par 67 to reach eight under par at Quail Hollow.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama was five under after 14 holes when play was halted at 21:43 BST, with thunderstorms expected.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy’s one-over 72 left him 10 shots off the lead. Play is set to resume at 23:25 BST.

Australian former world number one and 2015 US PGA champion Jason Day hit an eagle and three birdies in his five holes before the delay to move into third on five under.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and American Chris Stroud, both of whom had not completed their rounds, were one stroke further back.

USA’s Jordan Spieth, aiming to become the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam, was two over after 10 holes of his second round and three over for the tournament.

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US PGA Championship: McIlroy & Spieth trail leaders Olesen & Kisner by five

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US PGA leaderboard, round one
-4 Olesen (Den) Kisner (US); -3 Murray (US), Koepka (US), Woodland (US), Stroud (US), Points (US)
Selected others: -2 Reed (US), Casey (Eng), Fowler (US); -1 Matsuyama, Fleetwood (Eng), Smith (Eng), Day (Aus), D Johnson (US) Rahm (Spa); Level Scott (Aus), Kuchar (US); +1 Wood (Eng), Spieth (US) McIlroy (NI); +2 Willett (Eng), Westwood (Eng), McDowell (NI); +3 Poulter (Eng); +4 Garcia (Spa), +5: Rose (Eng), Donald (Eng); +8 Mickelson (US)

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are both five shots off leaders Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen after the first round of the US PGA Championship.

Spieth, 24, made two birdies in his last three holes to card a one-over-par 72 as he bids to become the youngest player to win the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy hit the same score despite reaching two under after 12 holes.

Grayson Murray, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, DA Points and Chris Stroud are all one shot off the lead.

World number 78 Olesen was among the early starters at Quail Hollow and hit six birdies, including one on the 18th hole which took him to four under and into the outright lead.

The Dane held that advantage until late in the day’s play when American Kisner also birded the 18th to complete a round of 67.

England’s Paul Casey is the best placed British player, tied for seventh on two under par.

McIlroy threatens and then falters

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Despite being without a tournament win this season, Northern Ireland’s McIlroy was installed as the pre-tournament favourite at Quail Hollow, where he has won twice on the PGA Tour and holds the course record.

After two opening pars the 28-year-old brought his round to life by chipping in from the edge of the green for birdie on the par-four third.

McIlroy followed that with two bogeys in three holes, but birdies on seven, eight and 10 took him within two shots of the lead.

However, the round stalled when, after a bogey on the par-three 13th, McIlroy hit his tee shot into the water hazard on 14 and made a double bogey.

“If someone told me I would shoot one over par this morning I probably wouldn’t have taken it, but the course played tricky,” McIlroy said after recovering to finish with four straight pars.

“It would have been nice to shoot under par but I played a three-hole stretch on the back nine three over par. That was the only thing that derailed my round.”

McIlroy was playing with best friend Harry Diamond as his caddie after he split with long-term caddie JP Fitzgerald last month.

Analysis

BBC golf expert Ken Brown

A one-over-par 72 was not bad overall for Rory McIlroy. The afternoon players had it slightly tougher, with the wind getting up.

The greens were super fast. Judging the line and pace was tricky.

Late birdies give Spieth steady start

Jordan Spieth

The US PGA is the only one of golf’s four majors Spieth is yet to win after victory at The Open last month.

Victory for the American – who was Masters and US Open champion in 2015 – would see him surpass compatriot Tiger Woods as the youngest player to claim all four majors.

He turned 24 four days after his triumph at Royal Birkdale, while Woods was 24 years, seven months and 25 days when he completed the career grand slam by winning The Open in 2000.

Spieth started his round on the back nine with five straight pars before a birdie on the 15th.

He then made bogey on the par four 16th, the first of the fearsome three holes named ‘the Green Mile’ on the North Carolina course.

Another three bogeys followed on the front nine before a birdie-birdie-par finish to close on the leaders.

“Given it’s the first round I know I’m still in it, but I know that tomorrow’s round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it. I’ve got to make up ground,” Spieth said.

‘Green Mile’ eats up Garcia – plus the rest

Sergio Garcia

The final three holes at Quail Hollow measure 1,223 yards in total and have developed a reputation as one of the toughest closing stretches in golf.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia was the first to struggle there on the opening day, dropping five shots on the ‘Green Mile’ – although the Spaniard steadied on the front nine to finish on four over par.

Garcia was playing alongside Spieth and US Open champion Koepka, the trio making up 2017’s major winners so far.

American Koepka fared best with five birdies in his round of 68 leaving him one shot off the lead in a tie for second.

Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Smith both finished at one under as the best placed Britons behind Casey.

Justin Rose, also of England, had played a steady round until five dropped shots in the final six holes meant he slipped back to five over par, while compatriot Lee Westwood carded a 73.

American five-time major winner Phil Mickelson had a torrid day, shooting an eight-over 79 with eight bogeys and no birdies.

England’s Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury after carding a seven-over-par 78.

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US PGA Championship 2017
Venue: Quail Hollow, Charlotte Dates: 10-13 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website. Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on website and mobile app. Click for full times.
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