ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Be careful what you wish for.
Watching the third round of the 105th PGA Championship on Saturday brought to mind the end of the second round Friday, when some of the world’s top players were grinding to make the cut as if their professional lives depended on it.
Jordan Spieth, missing only the Wanamaker Trophy that goes to the PGA Championship winner to complete the career Grand Slam, sank a knee-knocker par putt on 18 to make the cut on the number, 5-over, and wore an expression of utter relief as he walked off the green.
Justin Thomas, the defending champion and a fierce competitor, made a tester putt of about the same length as Spieth’s, this one for bogey and a 5-over finish to make the cut.
When he made the putt, Thomas looked as if he’d just saved his family from a flood.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm battled to remain in Rochester for the weekend with three birdies on the back nine to stay inside the cutline.
It was Rahm’s 15th consecutive made cut at a major, which is the longest active streak.
Phil Mickelson, a two-time PGA Championship winner who hasn’t had his best stuff this week, got in at 5-over to make his 100th cut in a major championship.
All of those players, major championship winners, accomplished and wealthy beyond the real world’s comprehension, desperately jockeyed for position to earn a Saturday tee time.
And what they all got when they arrived at the venerable major championship venue was a trying day of slop.
Oak Hill became Soak Hill.
This was a day when the grounds crew worked the squeegees to brush standing water on the fairways and greens toward drainage areas to play could continue. And continue it did, whether the players liked it or not.
Be careful what you wish for.
The Mets’ late afternoon game against the Guardians was called off before most people had finished their breakfast Saturday.
The PGA Championship played on in the quagmire, and patience was as important as putting.
“I think some players will get very frustrated in it, and some players gain momentum and hit a few good shots,’’ Padraig Harrington said Saturday. “Somebody is going to play well and shoot a nice score out there. There’s certainly a 3 or 4-under par out there for sure.’’
The best scores from the early part of the day came from Tommy Fleetwood, who shot a 2-under 68, and Patrick Reed, Chris Kirk Tyrrell Hatton, all of whom shot 69 in spite of the poor conditions.
“Massive mental challenge,’’ is what Fleetwood called playing in the conditions.
“For an average golfer that’s a normal scratch, they are not breaking 80 for sure,’’ Bryson DeChambeau said.
When Rory McIlroy walked into the interview tent following his round, the sky opened up again and it began to pour rain.
“Keep raining,’’ he said only half-jokingly, referring to the fact that the leaders were still on the golf course.
“It’s just tough to play in,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s tough to execute in those sorts of conditions out there right now. This tournament and especially in these conditions and on this golf course, the non-physical parts of the game I think are way more important this week than the physical parts of the game.’’
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