Jason Day reeled off three straight birdies and took a remarkable gamble that didn't pay off.
This Day was moving at the PGA Championship, all right — both up and down.
Day's quadruple bogey on the par-4 18th finished off a 6-over 77 on Saturday that left him at even par through three rounds of the tournament, in a tie for 16th place and seven strokes behind leader Kevin Kisner.
Day declined to speak to reporters as he left the clubhouse following an anything-but-boring back nine that included three birdies, two bogeys, a double bogey and that eight on the 18th.
His final hole might have been tough to explain.
Day was just four strokes back when his tee shot on the 494-yard hole veered behind a tree in some pine straw on the right side of the fairway. He tried a high-risk shot to hook it around the tree , and it landed in a bush, winding up unplayable.
After taking a drop near some portable toilets , he hit a flop shot over some trees into the fairway rough . His shot from that thick grass stopped 65 feet shy of the stick, and he three-putted .
"I didn't even know what he made. I wasn't keeping his score," said Kisner, who was in Day's group along with Hideki Matsuyama. "I was pretty consumed with what the heck I was trying it do on the second shot. I had never seen a hole location short of a false front before. It's unfortunate. He played good coming in and then gave it all away, so that's tough."
Matsuyama said through an interpreter that he had "no words of advice" for Day, "but let's go get 'em tomorrow."
By his high standards, Day has called this a poor season with only two top-10 finishes and no wins in 15 starts.
The world's former No. 1 player has dropped to seventh in the rankings, but came to Quail Hollow Club with what he described as slowly building confidence after finishing in a tie for 24th last week at Bridgestone. He's also had two consecutive strong showings at this event, winning it in 2015 and finishing second to Jimmy Walker at Baltusrol.
The 29-year-old Australian finished tied for 22nd at the Masters, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and was tied for 27th at the British Open.
It seemed like a promising sign that he was two strokes off the lead after two rounds, earning a spot in the final group — something that hadn't happened in a major championship since that victory two years ago at Whistling Straits.
Things started to go haywire right after he made the turn.
He recovered on the par-5 10th after pulling his tee shot into the rough, hitting a 75-yard third shot within 5 feet of the flagstick. His birdie putt caught the left edge of the cup and rolled all the way around it before spinning out. Day stood for a moment, one arm folded, with a disbelieving smile at his misfortune.
Day then yanked his tee shot on the par-4 12th toward a cart path left of the fairway, sent his shot from that position along that same cart path and placed his third stroke to the edge of the greenside bunker. His chip stopped about 10 feet from the hole and after that bogey putt went wide right, he tapped in for a double bogey that left him six strokes behind Kisner.
He followed a bogey on the par-3 13th with three straight birdies, rolling in a 40-foot putt on the 16th and offering a grin and a fist pump. A double bogey by Kisner on that hole helped Day cut his deficit in half, pulling within three strokes of the lead.
Then came a bogey on the 17th — and big trouble on the final hole.
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