American golf looks set to end its Major drought that stretches back seven events to the 2010 US Masters won by Phil Mickelson.
With eight of the top 10 players on the Leaderboard hailing from the US it would seem like only collective American collapse, combined with storming final rounds from the likes of Anders Hansen and current Masters Champion, Charl Schwartzel, could stop a home win.
Third round Leaderboard
- -7: B Steele (US), J Dufner (US)
- -6: K Bradley (US)
- -5: S Verplank (US)
- -4: S Stricker (US)
- -3: A Hansen (Den), DA Points (US)
- The best comeback victory in PGA Championship history is seven strokes by John Mahaffey in 1978.
- International players have won the last six major championships.
- The last six major winners have also been first-time major winners. Ten of the top 12 players on the Leaderboard are looking for their first major championship victory.
- The last three winners of major championships that have been held at Atlanta Athletic Club were first-time major championship winners.
Jerry Pate, 1976 U.S. Open
Larry Nelson, 1981, PGA Championship
David Toms, 2001, Atlanta Athletic Club
- The third-round leader has gone on to win the PGA Championship 30 of 53 times.
- There have been 323 double bogeys or worse made by the field through 54 holes, the most at a PGA Championship dating through 1992.
Player notes…Brendan Steele
Brendan Steele is a rookie on the PGA TOUR playing in his first major championship after winning the Valero Texas Open earlier this year. Steele had never played in a PGA TOUR event before the start of this season.
In 2010, Steele entered the 2010 Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island No. 30 on the money list, needing to get into the top 25 to earn his PGA TOUR card for 2011. Steele won the event in a four-hole playoff over Colt Knost and jumped to No. 6 on the final standings.
In his rookie year, Steele has led through 54 holes once before – at the Valero Texas Open. He won the event after leading by one stroke after the third round.
The last player to win the PGA Championship in their first-ever start was Shaun Micheel in 2003. The last player to win a major championship in their first-ever start at a major was the Ben Curtis, also in 2003.
Brendan Steele and Scott Verplank are the only remaining players in the field who could become one of 17 players since 1964 to shoot all four rounds in the 60s at the PGA Championship.
Steele has hit 31 of 42 fairways to rank T2 in the field this week. He has missed 18 greens over the first three rounds, but has been able to get up and down 14 times (77.78% leads the field through 54 holes). He ranks T156 in scrambling on TOUR coming into this week.
Player notes…Keegan Bradley
Like Steele, Bradley would be the first player to win the PGA Championship in their first-ever start was Shaun Micheel in 2003 and the first player to win a major championship in their first-ever start at a major since Ben Curtis, also in 2003.
Bradley and Brendan Steele are two of six rookies to win (HP Byron Nelson Classic) on the PGA TOUR this year. The last rookie to win multiple events in a season on TOUR was Todd Hamilton in 2004. All but one of the winning rookies (Charl Schwartzel) came to the PGA TOUR via the Nationwide Tour.
Bradley’s victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship was in come-from-behind fashion. The 25-year-old from St. John’s University came back from four strokes behind entering the final round.
Bradley has hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation in each of the first three rounds to rank T3 overall.
Player notes…Steve Stricker
At 4-under-par, Steve Stricker is three shots off the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship. Of Stricker’s 10 stroke-play victories on the PGA TOUR, his best comeback win came from two strokes off the lead when he won the 2009 Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Stricker’s last top 10 at a major came at the 2009 Masters where he finished T6. His best career finish at a major was runner-up at the 1998 PGA Championship, where he finished 2nd to Vijay Singh by two strokes.
Stricker’s 5th place standing is the highest he has been on the leaderboard in a major championship since heading into the final round of the 2006 U.S. Open T4 (finished T6).
Stricker is ranked 2nd in the FedExCup standings, 41 points behind Nick Watney. Stricker has five top-10 finishes in 2011, including victories at the Memorial Tournament and the John Deere Classic.
With two wins in 2011, Stricker is currently the only golfer to have multiple wins each of the last three years, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Player notes…David Toms
David Toms shot 30 on the back nine on Saturday including an eagle on the 12th hole and a birdie on the difficult 18th on his way to the best round of the day shooting 5-under-par 65. He also shot 65 in the second and third rounds at the 2001 PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club.
With his third round of 65 or better, Toms joins Steve Sricker, Jeff Maggert, Gary Player and Nick Price as the only players with three rounds of 65 or better in the history of the PGA Championship.
In 2001, David Toms claimed his lone major championship title by one stroke over Phil Mickelson with his famous layup at the 72nd hole here at Atlanta Athletic Club.