2022 PGA Championship leaderboard breakdown: Stars slip as Matthew Fitzpatrick goes low, soars into contention

Moving Day at the 2022 PGA Championship was comparable to switching lanes in standstill traffic. Plenty of action transpired, plenty of risks were taken, and there was that one car that took to the shoulder and bypassed nearly everyone. While 36-hole leader Mito Pereira held his own in the final group and ultimately signed a 1-under 69 to maintain his spot atop the leaderboard, Matt Fitzpatrick was the vehicle that hopped onto the shoulder.

The Englishman has been terrific this season, and despite remaining without a professional victory in the United States, the 27-year-old should love his chances to raise the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

Fitzpatrick is not alone in looking for his first career victory on the PGA Tour as Pereira, Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young — the top four men on the leaderboard — will all be seeking their first PGA Tour wins at the second major championship of the season.

With so much unknown at the top of the leaderboard, there is a potential for someone to come from behind and steal the Wanamaker from right under that group. Abraham Ancer and Justin Thomas fit this mold perfectly as both are proven winners who have found success in this championship, specifically.

While Pereira’s three-stroke lead may seem tough to overcome, things tend to move fast in the final round of a major championship. In other words, anything is possible on Sunday.

One thing that’s not possible? Seeing Tiger Woods tee it up for his fourth set of 18 holes. Woods decided to withdraw from the PGA Championship at the conclusion of the third round after shooting a 9-over 79 and sitting tied for last place. After his round, Tiger cited soreness as a concern, and he ultimately decided to withdraw from a major for the first time as a professional golfer.

There is still plenty of action to touch on and that is exactly what we plan to do. Below is a rundown of the leaderboard as it stands after Round 3.

1. Mito Pereira (-9): There was plenty of good and plenty of bad in Pereira’s third round, but in the end it added up to a 1-under 69. It was enough to give himself a three-stroke lead heading into the final round as the Chilean became the first player to hold the outright 54-hole lead in his PGA Championship debut since John Daly in 1991. While Pereira has that notch on his belt, he will look to add another Sunday as winning in a championship debut is a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in 11 years when Keegan Bradley did so at Atlantic Athletic Club.

T2. Matt Fitzpatrick, Will Zalatoris (-6): A slow start saw Fitzpatrick drop to 1 under for the championship after his opening two holes. He could have packed it in like many of his counterparts did Saturday, but instead, he catapulted himself into the final group. He went onto play his final 16 holes in 5 under and ended with a bang courtesy of a birdie on the difficult par-4 18th. Fitzpatrick is a proven winner across the pond, but has inexplicably been shut out on US soil. That could all change Sunday.

The putter abandoned Zalatoris early, but the type of resolve he showed was admirable. His third round could have easily gotten away from him after he was 4 over through seven and dropped as many as five strokes behind Pereira. Instead, he kept a cool head and in the process remained within reach of the lead. He will not find his name in the final pairing Sunday, but maybe that is a good thing as instead he will see a familiar face on the first tee.

4. Cameron Young (-5): Young may no longer be referred to as “Will Zalatoris’ college roommate” after this week as the PGA Tour rookie continues to contend on golf’s biggest stage. An eagle on the par-4 17th propelled his name onto the first page of the leaderboard in his PGA Championship debut. The 25-year-old already has three runners-up this season and he will hope Sunday does not result in a fourth. As mentioned, the grouping with Zalatoris will help ease the any final round jitters, but for some reason, I doubt he will even have any.

5. Abraham Ancer (-4): Ancer does not have a top-30 finish in a stroke-play event this year in the United States, so this performance does come as a little bit of a shock. He finished in a flurry last season at Kiawah Island and wrapped up his PGA Championship with a 7-under performance. He is his lone top-10 finish in his major championship career, and he should be able to add to that Sunday.

Rick Gehman, Mark Immelman and Jonathan Coachman recap Saturday’s action from Southern Hills. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

6. Seamus Power (-3): It is not Rory McIlroy or Shane Lowry but rather Power who leads the Irish contingent with 18 holes to go. He made the most of his Moving Day, jumping 17 spots on the leaderboard. I am not sure how much staying power he has at this tournament, but if prognosticators like his countrymen for their abilities to play well in ugly weather, maybe we should give Power the same benefit of the doubt.

T7. Stewart Cink, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas (-2): If there is a final-round 63 ala Johnny Miller out there Sunday, it is likely it comes from this group. Another Saturday in a major championship saw Thomas disappoint as the 2017 PGA Championship winner signed for a 4-over 74. His two elder statesmen looked more comfortable out there, and he may be pushing just slightly too much for major No. 2.

T10. Webb Simpson, Max Homa and five others (-1): Simpson went off early and took full advantage of Moving Day as he made it through to the weekend right on the number. Signing for a 5-under 65, the former US Open champion went from a tie for 64th at the beginning of the day to inside the top 10 by round’s end. His win probability is still slim, but if he can somehow repeat his third round performance, Simpson has an outside chance to add a second major title to his resume.

T17. Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and four others (E): Rory shot 5-under 65 on Thursday, and if he had just held serve between then and now, he would only be a few off the lead. Instead, the four-time major champion finds himself nine strokes behind after consecutive over-par rounds. If Friday was disappointing, I am not sure how McIlroy would describe Saturday’s 74. The eight-year major drought will continue for the Northern Irishman unless he is able to summon his same Sunday magic from Augusta National.

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