KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Less than a minute before the horn blew Saturday, announcing that third-round play at the 94th PGA Championship had been suspended, Bo Van Pelt holed his putt for par on the 18th green, knowing that his workday was complete and he wouldn’t have to wait out any lengthy weather delay.
Van Pelt was pleased for two reasons: He could put the Ocean Course in his rear-view mirror, and he could sign for a 5-under-par 67, tied for the low round of the day, one that made him the leader in the clubhouse at 3-under 213.
“Obviously pleased, obviously excited,” said Van Pelt, who was tied for fifth and three shots behind co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh, who still had more third-round holes to play. “To me, just glad to get done, to just be putting there on the last green. It’s nice to be done for the day and get to go home and relax.”
Van Pelt, who is 15th on the Ryder Cup points list, has just one top-10 finish in 21 major championship appearances. He tied for eighth at the 2011 Masters.
Ryder Cup race
Steve Stricker’s best round of the week, also a 67, allowed him to jump 30 spots and into a tie for seventh at 2 under when play was called. A similar final round might put him on the Ryder Cup team.
Stricker came into the tournament 10th on the points list, and the top eight automatically qualify for the US squad at the conclusion of the PGA. Hunter Mahan, in ninth place, missed the cut; Phil Mickelson is in eighth, and was at 1 over, tied for 21st, at the delay.
Even if Stricker doesn’t qualify on points, he is considered a near-lock to earn one of Davis Love’s four captain’s picks. But that’s of a secondary concern now; he’s focused on a strong PGA finish.
“It all depends what those leaders do,’’ said Stricker. “If one of those leaders goes out and shoots a 5-under round, bang, I’m seven back again. I’m going to have to have another good one or better tomorrow.”
Making his first appearance in a PGA Championship, David Lynn, a 38-year-old from England, knew only what he saw on TV from the 1991 Ryder Cup when it came to his knowledge of the Ocean Course. He hasn’t let the unfamiliarity hold him back this week, shooting a 4-under 68 in the third round to work his way near the lead, completing 54 holes at 1 under. The European Tour veteran with one career victory will take home plenty of memories, on course and off. “I’m on the island in a lovely villa, which has got a lovely bit of decking area over the water behind,’’ said Lynn. “There’s gators, and I literally stood on a gator’s head, that’s how close they are. I think there’s about three different ones come over. They all seem to come over to where we are, and one of them is quite big. He’s quite scary. The guys I’m staying with have named him Big Dude.”
Stuck in neutral
Keegan Bradley thought his chance at winning a second consecutive PGA Championship was still alive after two rounds, despite a Friday 77 that dropped him five shots back. A decent third-round score would have helped, but through 16 holes Bradley was even par — three birdies, three bogeys — and 1 over for the tournament. He was tied for 21st and seven shots back when play was suspended . . . Joost Luiten, who chose not to play the 18th hole on Friday because it was getting dark and players had the option of stopping (he was the only one who did so), returned Saturday morning and birdied the hole to finish off a 76. Luiten, who wears golf gloves on both hands (Deuce Luiten?) then completed 12 holes before the delay and stands 1 under for the round and the tournament . . . The 78.10 stroke average in the second round was a tournament record — by far. The previous high was 76.8 in the first round of the 1958 PGA, held at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa. That PGA was significant because it marked the first time the tournament used a stroke-play format. Prior to that, starting with its 1916 debut, the champion was determined through match play . . . One more stat from Freaky Friday: Of 153 players, only 15 had a better score in the second round than the first. Biggest improvement? US Open champion Webb Simpson, from a 79 to 72.
Brush with fate The penalty that Michael Hoey called on himself — after he had signed his second-round scorecard, resulting in his disqualification — was for his failure to re-create the lie that he had in a sandy waste area on No. 9. Hoey’s ball was embedded, and he was allowed, by rule, to brush away some sand to identify the ball. Hoey did not put the sand back on his ball, a violation that would have penalized him two strokes if he had informed a rules official prior to him signing the scorecard. He would have shot 70 and made the cut . . . The yardage for the Ocean Course has been progressively shorter: 7,668 yards for the first round, 7,521 for the second, then 7,451 Saturday . . . Not tournament-related, but the Golf Channel announced that 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps will be the next student on “The Haney Project.” Production begins in September, and the show will start airing in February.