Mark Cannizzaro

Mark Cannizzaro


European golf stars make ‘moving day’ charge at PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Moving day is real.

It’s not just some cute, gimmicky saying the PGA Tour came up with as a marketing slogan.

It’s real.

So, too, is two players playing well in the game group and feeding off each other.

Ask Shane Lowry and Justin Rose.

Lowry began his third round of the PGA Championship on Saturday at Valhalla tied for 29th and eight shots out of the 36-hole lead. He teed off 1 hour and 39 minutes before the last, lead group.

Then he went out and moved up the leaderboard like some of the great horses have on the inside rail at nearby Churchill Downs in Kentucky Derbies past.

Lowry, the 37-year-old Irishman, shot 9-under-par 62 and flirted with history, staring at a makeable birdie putt on 18 for a 61, a number that’s never been posted in major championship history.

By day’s end, Lowry stood at 13-under par, just two shots behind leaders Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, in his pursuit of a second career major to go along with his 2019 British Open triumph at Portrush.

Alongside Lowry in his threesome was Rose, who shot a 7-under-par 64 to get to 12-under par and in great position to win his second career major championship, to go along with his 2013 U.S. Open win at Merion.

Aussie Jason Day was the third wheel in the group. He shot a 2-under-par 69 on Saturday and walked off the course looking as if he’d just been mugged.

Shane Lowry smilingly grimaces after missing a birdie chance that would have given him a major championship-record 61 in the third round of the PGA Championship. He settled for a 62. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Thursday and Friday’s first and second rounds are for making the cut, securing weekend tee times and positioning.

Saturday’s third round is “moving day.’’

Lowry and Rose moved. Boy, did they move.

“I enjoyed every minute of it, obviously,’’ Lowry said. “Probably the most disappointed anyone can ever be shooting 62. I knew what was at stake.’’

The fateful final putt?

Justin Rose, who fired a 64, hits his tee shot off the 18th hole during the third round of the PGA Championship. Matt Matt Stone-USA TODAY Sports

“I just really wanted to hole it — probably too much,’’ Lowry said. “I kind of stood back and allowed myself to enjoy the moment. It was a pretty cool moment to have. It would have been a pretty cool moment to kind of seal the deal and do it. [I] just didn’t hit the ball hard enough. I had it on a good read and just broke away from the hole.’’

Then, Lowry added, “Look, I went out there with a job to do today, and my job was to try to get myself back in the tournament, and I definitely did that.’’

So, too did Rose, who joked afterward that his round was “pretty average compared to Shane.’’

“I had a weird feeling I was going to shoot 61 today,’’ Rose said. “I kind of felt like it was on. There was good energy out there. You feed off the crowd, too. Crowd were getting interested in the day. They could see me going well. They could see Shane going well.

“Once you got a sniff of the leaderboard, the intensity kind of goes up. It keeps you focused and keeps you hungry and keeps pushing you forward.’’

Justin Rose (right) greets Shane Lowry after both completed impressive third rounds at the PGA Championship. AP

Lowry said his goal entering the day was simple.

“I thought if I could get to double digits, that was my plan,’’ he said. “If I could shoot 65, I felt like I’d be there [though] I’d obviously need another at least 65 [Sunday] if I did that. That’s what I wanted to do, but obviously a few better is nice.’’

Both Rose and Lowry are seeking their second career major championship, and they’ll still be coming from behind Sunday as they were on Saturday, but much closer to the lead.

“I still believe in myself, I still believe that I have these opportunities in me [to win] majors for sure,’’ Rose said.

“Obviously, you come here the start of every major championship and you know what it means to win one of these,’’ Lowry said. “I’ve been fortunate to do it before. To win one is pretty good, but to win multiple, you’re kind of a bit of a different level. It would mean a lot to me tomorrow.’’

Both players were 5-under-par through the first seven holes and on the move. Same as they’ll have to be on Sunday.

“Today was a lot of fun,’’ Rose said. “It felt like we got off to the dream start. Shane and I had the exact same scorecard the first seven holes — we both were 5-under and rolling, and definitely quite aware that making some progress up the leaderboard.

“It was,’’ Rose added, “the classic moving day, and job well done.’’

Understatement alert.