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PGA Championship: Shane Lowry comes within inches of major scoring record as Scottie Scheffler splutters

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — His face turned skyward and scrunched in agony, it was not the expected reaction of a man about to tie a fabled record, but that’s just how close Shane Lowry came to achieving the truly historic at the PGA Championship.

The Irishman levelled the lowest score ever carded at a men’s major with a spectacular nine-under 62 in his third round on Saturday to soar within two strokes of leading duo Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, but would have posted an unprecedented 61 had his putt at the final hole settled four inches to the right.

Chasing his 10th birdie of the day at Kentucky’s Valhalla Golf Club, Lowry weighted his attempt at history perfectly from just inside 12-feet but was left to tap in for par as his ball cruelly arced away from the cup at the death.

“Probably the most disappointed anyone can ever be shooting 62. I knew what was at stake,” Lowry, chasing a second major crown after Open Championship glory in 2019, told reporters.

“Just didn’t hit the ball hard enough. Had it on a good read and [it] just broke away from the hole … I knew I just really wanted to hole it. Probably too much.

“It would have been a pretty cool moment to kind of seal the deal and do it,” he added. “But at the end of the day, I knew even if I didn’t do it that I did what I needed to do today, and I’m pretty happy with that.”

It marks just the fifth 62 in men’s major history but the second since Thursday, when Schauffele opened with the lowest round ever seen in 106 editions of the tournament.

The American had been the last golfer to achieve the feat at a major after shooting the same score at last year’s US Open, with compatriot Rickie Fowler (also 2023 US Open), South Africa’s Branden Grace (2017 Open Championship) – and now Lowry – the only others to ever shoot as low at one of the four flagship events.

A grandstand finish looms

World No. 3 Schauffele led the field heading into the weekend but was hunted down by compatriot Morikawa and a flurry of others on a low-scoring afternoon, teeing up a tantalizing grandstand finish on Sunday.

A double bogey at the 15th threatened to derail Schauffele’s pursuit of a first major but he recovered well with two closing birdies to card 68 and maintain pace at 15-under overall with 2020 champion Morikawa, who shot 67.

“You want the lead,” Schauffele told reporters. “Against these guys, you want as many shots as you can possibly take, no matter how nerve-racking it can be.”

Fellow American Sahith Theegala roared back after a poor start to move within a stroke of the leading duo, pouring in five birdies across the final 10 holes – including a mesmerizing chip-in from the greenside rough at the 11th – to card 67.

Lowry is among the chasing pack bunched behind the American trio, joined by 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and Norway’s world No. 7 Viktor Hovland. Just five strokes separate Schauffele and Morikawa from the six golfers level in tied-10th.

Jordan Spieth posted a strong 67 but – seven shots back at eight-under overall – will need to deliver something truly special on Sunday if he is to become just sixth player to win all four majors in the modern era.

Scheffler slides

Yet tournament favorite Scottie Scheffler, one shot behind Spieth in tied-24th, will require even greater heroics after enduring a grueling two-over 73.

The world No. 1 had looked his usual unflappable self as he shot 66 mere hours after being released from jail on Friday, but – with usual caddie Ted Scott away at his daughter’s graduation – toiled from the outset of his third round.

Scheffler managed to slow a nosediving start that saw him four-over par after just four holes, but struggled for consistency throughout to shoot over par for the first time since August of last year, ending a remarkable run of 41 consecutive events of par or lower.

Scheffler had taken a one shot lead into the final 18 holes before easing to victory at the Masters last month, but will have overturn an eight shot deficit to make it back-to-back major wins.

He will tee off alongside fellow Texan Mark Hubbard at 12:15 p.m. ET (5:15 p.m. BST) Sunday, with leading duo Schauffele and Morikawa the last pair out at 2:35 p.m. ET (7:35 p.m. BST).

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