FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Well, that was a strenuous day of golf, and for what? Brooks Koepka started the third round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black with a seven-stroke lead, and he finished it with a seven-stroke lead. Koepka shot an even-par 70 Saturday with three bogeys and three birdies, proving he’s somewhat human after opening with rounds of 63-65.
There’s a four-way tie for second place behind Koepka, including:
• Harold Varner IIII, who will play in the final group in the final round of a major championship for the first time after a 67 Saturday.
• Jazz Janewattananond, a 23-year-old from Thailand who also shot 67 while becoming New York’s latest folk hero. “People keep shouting, ‘Love you!’ ” Jazz said. “They love me here.”
• Luke List (69 in the third round), runner-up to Ryan Moore in the 2004 U.S. Amateur down the road at Winged Foot and with a best major finish of T-33 in the 2005 Masters (as an amateur).
• Dustin Johnson (69), the only guy other than Koepka who might be favored in a fistfight with Bethpage’s brute of a golf course.
Do the chasers have a chance? Well, John Mahaffey trailed Tom Watson by seven shots going into the final round of the 1978 PGA at Oakmont, and Mahaffey shot a 66 before winning a playoff against Watson and Jerry Pate for the biggest final-round comeback in the championship’s history. Is a repeat doable? Yes. Is it likely? No. If Koepka shoots another 70 to finish at -12, someone in the pack at five under has to shoot a 63 just to force a playoff. On to the stats from Day 3:
4: The number of major championships Koepka would have if he wins Sunday, adding a second PGA to last year’s victory at Bellerive and his two U.S. Opens, in 2017 at Erin Hills and 2018 at Shinnecock. And he just turned 29 earlier this month.
8: Largest winning margin in a PGA, by Rory McIlroy in 2012 at Kiawah. Jack Nicklaus won by seven in 1980 at Oak Hill, and Nick Price won by six in 1994 at Southern Hills.
12: The number of players within 10 strokes of Koepka among the 82 who made the cut. Varner, Janewattananond, List and Johnson are seven back; Hideki Matsuyama (68) and Matt Wallace (70) trail by eight; Xander Schauffele (68), Patrick Cantlay (68), Adam Scott (72) and Jordan Spieth (72) are nine back; and Erik van Rooyen (70) and Sung Kang (70) have 10 shots to make up. Asked what his goal is for Sunday, van Rooyen replied, “Make 18 birdies.” Added Schauffele in assessing Koepka: “I’m sure he’s having a blast. But for the rest of us, he’s making it awfully boring.”
72.354: Scoring average for the field in the third round, versus 71.645 on Friday and 73.064 on Thursday.
77: Rounds in the 60s in three rounds, proving that Bethpage is somewhat gettable after a rainy run-up to the championship. The breakdown: one 63, two 64s, three 65s, three 66s, 13 67s, 20 68s and 35 69s.
78: Tough scores Saturday for Daniel Berger, playing in the penultimate group, and Kelly Kraft, playing in front of him.
196: Best 54-hole score in a PGA, by David Tomas (66-65-66) at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001. Koepka is at 198 after his rounds of 63-65-70.
264: The best 72-hole score in a PGA Championship, by … Brooks Koepka last year at Bellerive (69-63-66-66), which was 16 under par. Koepka would need to shoot 66 Sunday to match that total. Note: The best score by a PGA winner in relation to par was Jason Day’s 20 under at Whistling Straits in 2015, when he shot rounds of 68-67-66-67 for a 268 total. To get to 20 under, Koepka would need to shoot a PGA Championship-record 62.
Incalculable: Attempted pronunciations of Janewattananond by gallery members. “I heard some really funny ones,” Jazz said. “So, yeah, keep it coming.”