China’s No. 1 Li Haotong leads the PGA Championship but two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka is lurking as the third round of the first major championship of 2020 got underway Saturday morning.
Li, who is trying to become the first player from China to win a men’s major championship, is at eight under 132 for a two-shot lead over Koepka who is tied for second with five others at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Koepka is in pursuit of a rare three-peat, trying to become the first to win a major championship three consecutive times since the 1950s.
The tournament is being played without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked what it is going to take for him to become the first man from China to win a major, Li said he needs to drive the ball straight.
“Well, I still got two rounds left. A long way to go. I just want to play my best. If it happens, it happens,” said Li, who has two wins on the European Tour.
“I think the key on this course, you just need to hit as many fairways as you can, and especially putting and short game is quite important.”
Over the past five years, Koepka has dominated the major championships like no other player. He has won four of the past 12 majors, including two PGAs and two US Opens.
“I have been driving it pretty well. I am pretty pleased with my iron play. I like where I am at,” he said.
Both he and Li have late tee times Saturday. The big question mark for Koepka will be his health.
He has been bothered by a nagging knee injury and on Friday he sought treatment for a “tight” hip three times on the back nine.
In early round play Saturday, Justin Thomas, who is playing in his first tournament since regaining the world number one ranking, got off to the best start with four birdies in his first six holes.
Thomas opened with a par on No. 1 but then made a nine foot putt for birdie on the par-four second.
He two putted for birdie on the par-five No. 4 and then drained an 11 footer on the fifth to move to three under for the tournament. He also birdied par-four No. 6.