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Rory takes 1-shot lead into Sunday with Fowler, Phil lurking at PGA Championship

Third Round – PGA of America – 96th PGA Championship –Valhalla Golf Club – Louisville, Kentucky –

At one point five different players shared the lead at the 96th PGA Championship in round three at Valhalla Golf Club, but by day’s end World No. 1 Rory McIlroy secured the 54-hole lead at 13-under overall.

Rory birdied three of his last four holes Saturday at Valhalla to shoot 67. His back-nine play has kept him in front of the contenders all week.

In a surprise run, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger shot a bogey-free 65 playing alongside Phil Mickelson. Wiesberger, a two-time European Tour champion back in 2012, entered the week as a 250-to-1 betting long shot at Skybet.com. Only playing the weekend of major one other time in his career, the 28-year-old earned a spot in the final pairing with Rory on Sunday by finishing with three straight birdies in round three.

Mickelson (T-4 at 10-under) and Rickie Fowler make up the second-to-last pairing Sunday.

Fowler, who has Top 5 finishes in all three majors this year, had a share of the lead in round three and looked very confident. He shot 67 and sits 11-under and two back.

Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen (T-6 at 9-under) are the only two major championship winners within a serious reach of Rory’s lead. Lefty rallied with three straight birdies on the back-nine to finish strong.

Day struggled on the greens to keep pace playing with McIlroy Saturday. He sits 10-under heading into Sunday. Ranked 9th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Day has three career runner-up efforts in majors.

As McIlroy sets his sight on a fourth major championship and second straight to close out 2014, he can rest Saturday night knowing that 16 of the last 18 PGA winners have come from the final pairing.

The World No. 1 will need a solid final round with nearly a dozen golfers within four shots of the lead. The soft layout provides a real shot for a player to shoot a 63 and get in the clubhouse before the lead groups reach the final stretch.

Look for someone at 9-under – Henrik Stenson, Oosthuizen, Ryan Palmer and Mikko Ilonen – to make run Sunday on the front nine to apply pressure to the final pairings.

Other Golf News:

  • Inbee Park (13-under) shot 68 Saturday at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan. She leads fellow countrywoman Mirim Lee by a stroke with 18 holes to play. Suzann Pettersen sits in third place at 11-under.
  • Wiesberger’s 2012 wins on the European Tour included victories at less-than-stellar fields. Although he is 70th in the Official World Golf Rankings, Wiesberger might be a fish out of water Sunday in the final pairing of a major. He does have two runner-up efforts in the 2014 season.
  • Cristie Kerr fired a 64 in round three at the Meijer LPGA Classic. But, she is not within reach of Park’s lead. Beatriz Recari (T-5) and Paula Creamer (T-7) are also in the Top 10, but perhaps too far back to contend. Lydia Ko shot 71 Saturday and sits T-12, while Stacy Lewis is T-28. Lewis has yet to card a round in the 60s in Michigan after rounds of 70-72-70.
  • The Champions Tour returns next week with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Colin Montgomerie, Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh – all played last week at the 3M Championship. All three 50-somethings made the cut this week at the PGA Championship at golf’s highest level.