US PGA: Brutal day sets up thrilling finale

Mito Pereira Round 3 Pga

LEADERBOARD–9 Pereira; -6 Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris; -5Young. SELECTED OTHERS–2 Watson, Thomas; -1 McIlroy; +8 Rahm; +11MacIntyre; +12 Woods. 

Another brutal day at Southern Hills provided the perfect foundation for Sunday’s PGA Championship final round.

In yet more tough conditions in Oklahoma, there were changes aplenty to the congested leaderboard.

Back and forth the battle raged over the course of Saturday. The early part of the day saw several big names struggle – Tiger Woods and Robert MacIntyre were among those who toiled among the earlier starters.

At the other end of the scale, PGA Tour rookie Mito Pereira came to the fore. In just his second major, he got to nine-under to lead by three after 54 holes.

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"It looks good," Pereira said when asked how it felt to see his name at the top of the leaderboard.

"It's my second major and my first making the cut. I was in the final pairing - of course I am going to feel nervous."

When asked about his game plan for the final round, he replied: "Just try to keep my head in the moment, and just try to enjoy being in the final pairing of a major."

As Pereira surged, Rory McIlroy struggled. The first-round leader fell away dramatically before a late flourish put him back in the frame.

Matt Fitzpatrick was another big mover, getting to six-under thanks to a stunning late run.

"This is my first time ever being in proper contention in a major," he said after his third round.

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"I am just looking forward to tomorrow and going out there and doing the same things I've done all week."

It was a day for holding on, rather than scoring. Overnight leader Will Zalatoris clung to the coat-tails of Pereira despite his well-documented struggles with the putter. Bubba Watson remained in contention, while Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Seamus Power were all in the mix.

Sunday's final round is perfectly poised, and promises to be a stunning spectacle.

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