Rory McIlroy will take a narrow lead over Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger into Sunday’s final round of the US PGA Championship as he looks to claim a second major title in four weeks and third win in a row.
McIlroy took a one-shot advantage into the third round at a soggy Valhalla and held onto it thanks to a second successive 67 to lie 13 under par, but the identity of his nearest challenger came as something of a surprise.
Wiesberger was a total of 12 over for his last two appearances in the US PGA before this week and had only made one halfway cut in five previous majors, but carded a flawless 65 which was completed in stunning fashion.
McIlroy, who won the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and a first World Golf Championship event in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, is aiming to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back majors.
The 25-year-old won his first two by eight shots and was six ahead after 54 holes at Hoylake but was happy simply to still be in the lead here.
“The guys got pretty close to me at the Open and today and I was able to respond on the back nine,” McIlroy said. “It’s not the biggest lead I’ve ever had but I am still in control of this tournament and it’s still a good position to be in.
“I just knew I needed to make a couple (of birdies) coming down the back nine to keep the lead or at least be tied. The two birdies on 15 and 16 were huge.
“It’s where I want to be, it’s the best place to be in a tournament. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Meanwhile, Wiesberger, 28-year-old world number 70 holed from inside three feet on the 505-yard 16th, almost holed his second shot to the 17th and then left an eagle pitch just inches short on the 18th.
“It was a dream come true really, going out there with Phil (Mickelson), one of my heroes,” said Wiesberger, who lost a play-off for the Lyoness Open in his native Vienna in June, the event he won in 2012 for his second European Tour title.
“I played beautifully today, I didn’t miss a lot of shots, set up a few nice opportunities on the last few holes especially. I’m very proud of myself the way I played.
“It’s a completely new situation for me, only my second cut in a major in six attempts, so I am quite a rookie in this particularly situation. I have driven it really nicely this week and if I can do it again it will settle down the nerves and I am going to have fun tomorrow.”
American Rickie Fowler, who has finished in a tie for fifth, second and second in this year’s majors, was a shot behind Wiesberger on 11 under with Mickelson another stroke back after both shot 67. Australian Jason Day was alongside Mickelson after a 69.