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Can anyone catch the rampant Brooks Koepka?

Koepka remains in control (Photo: Getty Images )
Brooks Koepka began and finished his third round at the PGA Championship with a seven shot lead but his nearest chasers have changed with Dustin Johnson, Luke List, Jazz Janewattananond and Harold Varner 111 now the ones faced with the seemingly impossible task of bridging the gap tomorrow.

Not that Koepka looks like providing any hope, a round of 70 today consolidating his lead and offering little reason for the rest of the field to think they are playing for anything other than 2nd place.

Two birdies in his first seven holes today extended the lead of Koepka and although Johnson and List got within five shots at various stages they would both fall victim to the demanding closing holes and share second place, a daunting seven shots behind the powerful Koepka.

In his post round media conference, the leader certainly gave little to suggest he would protect his lead tomorrow, providing further concern for those hoping for a little help from Koepka. His confidence is at an all time high and the issue he is most concerned about is pacing himself tomorrow.

“Well, I'm definitely not going to let up; I promise you that,” said Koepka  “I'm just trying to hit the best possible shot I can at the time. I feel like when I'm over the shot, I'm very confident. I feel good about it, and if I'm not, I'm going to back off.

“Most of the time, I'm pretty anxious to hit while the guy's ball's in the air. I've got to wait on the crowd to calm down a little bit. I enjoy the confidence I have and what I'm playing with right now.”

Koepka is very measured in his approach to the game and appears, on the surface, to be unflappable but he is relishing the opportunity to play in front of the exuberant New York crowds.

“I mean, it's incredible. These fans are very energetic. New York's always got some of the best fans. It's a true sporting town. It's fun to play in front of them. I enjoy it. I enjoy hearing the cheers. It's actually kind of fun hearing some of the boos, too, when you miss a short one like 9. You pretty much deserve that.

“But it's really enjoyable to play in front of them and feel that electricity. I felt it all week playing with Tiger. You know what you're going to get, but even today, there was a lot of people out there and it was fun to play in front of them.”

Three of the four at 5 under and sharing second place have yet to win on the PGA Tour but the 4th, Dustin Johnson, may yet be the one to test Koepka. Just as he did at the Masters, when runner-up, he will need a special final round tomorrow and a lot of help from Koepka but seven shot leads are not totally insurmountable despite being very commanding.

Johnson is aware of what he faces tomorrow but is happy enough in the way he is playing and if he can eliminate mistakes is still optimistic about tomorrow.

“There's really nothing you can do on this golf course to change your approach,” said Johnson. “Drive it in the fairway -- if I drive it in the fairway, I feel like there's no hole I can't attack because if I'm driving it in the fairway and coming out of the fairway, you can control the golf ball.

“The greens are fairly receptive. Every time I was in the fairway, I hit a shot that, you know, I gave myself a really good look at birdie.

“I got a lot of confidence in the irons and I'm driving it well, too. I just need to limit those misses.”

Adam Scott struggled through his front nine and although he holed a monster birdie putt at the 11th he was unable to make any further progress and his round of 72 leaves him in a share of 8th place and nine shots from the lead. He remains the leading Australian by some margin however.

“I scrambled as well as I could,” said Scott but he knew he need a fast start if he was to put any pressure on Koepka. “That wasn't what I -- I really needed a solid start. But I really needed under-par front nine I thought to just keep interested in chasing him down.”

Despite the gap between he and the leader Scott is not giving up thoughts of a come from behind victory.

“Brooks has separated himself here, two, three rounds, and it's unlikely that he could play poor enough to cough it up tomorrow.

“But you've got to tee off with the hope. I mean, I shot 6-under yesterday. Maybe they'll set the pins up a little friendlier and give someone a chance to do that. You never know. It's possible he could struggle and shoot a couple over.”

Jason Day rebounded from the disappointment of yesterday’s round of 74 which eliminated any chance he might had had of a second Wanamaker Trophy, with a round of 69 today to be the next best of the Australians in 26th place, the highlight an eagle from 40 feet at the 4th.

Lucas Herbert and Cameron Smith are tied for 64th place.

Brooks Koepka though will take a seven-shot break over the field into tomorrow’s final day as he pursues his 4th major title in his last eight attempts and graduation to the top of the World Ranking.

Given the manner in which he is controlling this course and field, it is hard to imagine he will allow such a lead to slip but big margins can occasionally provide complications for a tearway leader.

It is not over yet but the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords.

 

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