Three golfers entered the 2018 golf season needing to fill one major hole in their resumes - winning the career grand slam.
Rory McIlroy, 28, needs only a green jacket to complete the task. He’ll be first up on Sunday, and will be in the final pairing, three shots back, with leader Patrick Reed.
Jordan Spieth, 24, will have to wait till August. He needs only to add a PGA Championship, to be played this year at Bellerive in St. Louis.
And Phil Mickelson, at 47, has seemed engaged in playing often enough and well enough, to attempt the career landmark at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in New York in June. He’ll turn 48 the Saturday of this year’s Open, an event in which he has six runner-up finishes.
Coming off a WGC victory was encouraging, but his play this week was off and he admitted to perhaps wanting it too much, shooting a 74 Saturday after triple-bogeying the first hole and having one shot that was a whiff.
“As you get older you feel a little bit more pressure each one because you don't feel as though you have unlimited number of events. So given how well I was playing heading into this, I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself to perform this week,” he said Friday.
Winners of the 2017 majors and where they stand after 54 holes in the year’s first major:
2017; Winner; ’18 pos.
Masters; Sergio Garcia; MC
U.S. Open; Brooks Koepka; DNP
British; Jordan Spieth; T-9
PGA; Justin Thomas; T-9
Expected third-round charges, those that put challengers in position to win and those that failed to materialize:
Patrick Reed (67): Enters Sunday with chance to win and become first player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s in a Masters. Position: 1st
Rory McIlroy (65): Needs a Masters to complete career slam, and he shot 31 on the front nine and capped day with a birdie on No. 18. Position: 2nd
Rickie Fowler (65): The best young player yet to win a major put himself in contention with a front-nine 31. Position: 3rd
Jon Rahm (65): The Spaniard, 23, shot the low round through 54 holes, a 65, that later in day was matched by Fowler and McIlroy. Position: 4th
Bubba Watson (68): Two-time champ played Bubba golf with seven birdies, three bogeys in a 68. Position: T-6th
Jordan Spieth (71): British Open champ last July didn't get under par for the day till No. 15. Position: T-9th
Justin Thomas (70): PGA champ from last August had a solid day but never got the putter working. Position: T-9th
Dustin Johnson (71): The world's top player in the rankings, a double bogey on No. 11 marred his card. Position: 11th
By making the cut, Tiger Woods is poised to re-enter the top 100 in the world golf rankings. He was last in the top 100 in March 2015. He entered the 82nd Masters at No. 103. Woods began bogey-bogey on Saturday’s third round but got back to a 72, his best round of the week.
“I'm going to guess (I was ranked) like over 1,400 or something, whatever it was. But to gradually kind of build my way back into it, I've had some success in this comeback and I'm getting there. I wish this week would have been a little bit better, hopefully tomorrow I can shoot something, get me to even par or even in the red,” he said.
ESPN’s live telecast of Friday’s second round was a 2.9 overnight rating, the best second round rating since 2013. The peak came at 3.3 from 6:15-6:30 as Woods was playing his closing holes of the round.
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