It's the first time since 2008 that the PGA Championship didn't complete three rounds on Saturday. Some players had to go 36 holes on the final day that year, and Padraig Harrington wound up winning his second straight major.
"Unfortunately, the weather gods turned against us today," said Kerry Haigh, the PGA's managing director of championships.
Harrington might be in the picture again, depending on how the rest of the field fares Sunday morning. He was 4 under on his round until a double bogey on the 10th hole, though that was his only big mistakes and he wound up with a 69. Harrington was at 1-under 215.
"I would rather it just stayed the way it was," Harrington said about the weather. "Who knows what's going to happen now? ... It could be a good break, but it could be a bad break. We'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out. But would have settled for the guys to play the same conditions we played and have them play the back nine in the wind, because the back nine was a lot tougher than the front nine."
McIlroy opened with a 15-foot birdie putt, followed with a long two-putt birdie on the par-5 second, and then the adventure began. His tee shot dropped out of the sky and into a crevice in the thick limb that appeared to be dying.
"I know the line of the ball was right on the tree," McIlroy said. "We'd been looking for it for maybe about three minutes and then one of the guys that was working for TV came over and said, 'You know, it's actually stuck in the tree.' I'm like, 'How can it be stuck in this thing? There's no branches, no leaves for it to be stuck in. But it had wedged itself in between the tree bark and the actual tree.
"I was just happy to get it up-and-down for 4 and move on to the next," McIlroy said.
The next hole was just as good, though not as dramatic, when he holed a 15-foot putt for par, and then he hit his tee shot to about 5 feet on the par-3 fifth hole.
Stricker, trying to earn his way onto the Ryder Cup team, brought a chance at his first major championship into the picture when he ran off five birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn before missing a short putt on the 13th for his lone bogey. He finished with a birdie.
Trevor Immelman was 3 under through 10 holes, while Graeme McDowell remains poised to contend in a third straight major. He was at 2 under through 11 holes, and then ducked into the clubhouse to avoid the pounding rain. Players checked the weather on their phones, and saw nothing but bad weather.
"Disappointing," McDowell said. "We've done well this week to avoid the storms that are pretty inevitable in this part of the country this time of the year."
And it was slightly disappointing to have to stop, especially for those chasing.
"It was a great test of golf out there this afternoon, a nice 50 mph breeze to keep everyone honest," he said. "We'll see how conditions are in the morning."
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