To say Brady Brown of Robinson, Illinois came prepared with his attire for this PGA Championship would be an understatement. But Koepka proved as hard as the course was soft.
He finally made one at No. 10 and came back with still another birdie at No. 11 before play was suspended for the day.
"I like my chances in match play", he said.
"It's not necessarily the physical, it's mentally grinding that hard for 29 holes in this heat, " he said. "So, yeah, special day for me today".
A four-under third round by the 14-time major-winner took him to nine-under and four behind leader Brooks Koepka, who had four holes remaining. Superficially, the rock-chinned, burly-chested Koepka looks like an exercise in pure bashing power golf, of muscle meeting technology. They also had a few technical difficulties throughout (including a ghost in the shot tracer that's plagued both online and broadcast coverage), and they zeroed in on group that were already available online as featured groups, which is a problem for more than just the PGA Championship but it's even more frustrating on this stage.
He'll be around for two more days of golf. Koepka just may be that kind of complete, too. "I feel like I'm where I want to be".
"They're so nice to hit some wedges off of", he said. (In between, he'd notched a fifth birdie at the short par-4 11th.) The putts he missed are the type that Woods would knock down in his prime, assuring that he always kept momentum on his side.
By contrast, the field at Bellerive this week is one of the best all season, and somehow Scott has found some of his old magic. 14 and 15, but he closed with a birdie at the 17th hole to set an impressive line.
"Could've been a little closer, " Woods said. And as Woods was moving into position for a potential eagle, Koepka made a 10-foot par save on the 16th. He rained his short irons on the downy greens for five birdies and was two strokes off the lead as he made the turn, setting off a chain reaction of noise across Bellerive.
Tiger Woods a 14-time major champion in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery fired a 66 to share fourth on 202. AFP
Despite being eight shots back and tied 28th the Texan was not throwing in the towel. This golf course is very gettable.
"We have to be aggressive, pars just won't be enough".
"It can show its teeth if you're not driving it well", Thomas said.
Spieth refused to acknowledge he's out of it entering Sunday's final round.
Woods answered his bogey with an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-3 sixth and a seven-footer for birdie at the seventh, the crowds and buzz around him growing with every hole.
He had been on the verge of a low number that would have vaulted him into the thick of it.
"I don't even really know if we have all really had time to reflect on it and let it sink in". Woodland went over the green onto a slope at the back of another bunker, and his next shot went through the green back into the first bunker. The sand had yet to be raked, and Woodland's ball was in his footprints. He barely managed to scrape that one out - but it stayed in the rough of the upslope. He wound up with triple bogey, and scrambled to get back in the mix.
He was the rare outlier, a relatively unproven player among the logjam of established champions who will be chasing Koepka on Sunday.
"It's a lot more insane", Brown said.