It could be a dull third round of the PGA Championship on Saturday.
Tiger Woods, the main attraction at Bethpage Black the last two days, missed the cut and will not play this weekend. Brooks Koepka, after a record-breaking first couple of rounds, is so far ahead – seven strokes – that he could run away and hide from the 81 other contestants with a good Saturday.
Because of Woods’ absence and Koepka holding a lopsided lead, guys like Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo might be lonely wondering where all the CBS viewers went. The PGA drew great ratings last year as Woods challenged for his first major championship since 2008, but no Woods this year definitely means fewer eyeballs watching.
Could developments also affect the actual turnout at Bethpage? The secondary ticket marketplace, TickPick, reports that the “get-in” ticket price for the third round dropped 41 percent in connection with Woods missing the cut. The price went from $129 to $76.
The Sunday “get-in” price fell from $105 to $89, or 15 percent, TickPick said.
Then again, if Koepka somehow loses his mojo and Jordan Spieth continues to wield a hot putter and have a legitimate chance to complete golf’s historic Grand Slam, the viewers – home and live – will return.
Speaking of TV, TNT will carry the action from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by CBS from 2-7 p.m.
Over the previous two days, Koepka shot the lowest 36-hole score, 128 (63-65), in the history of major championships. Here are the records he broke:
PGA: Gary Woodland, 130 (64-66), Bellerive, St. Louis, 2018.
Masters: Jordan Spieth, 130 (64-66), Augusta National, 2015.
U.S. Open: Martin Kaymer, 130 (65-65), Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2, 2014.
British Open: Nick Faldo, 130 (66-64), Muirfield, 1992; Brandt Snedeker, 130 (66-64), Royal Lytham and St. Anne, 2012.
Some tee times.
Koepka and Spieth will be in the last pairing starting at 2:50 p.m.
Other players who should draw attention are Rory McIlroy (9:30 a.m.), Francesco Molinari (noon), Matt Kuchar (12:10 p.m.), Phil Mickelson (12:20 p.m.), Xander Schauffele (12:50 p.m.), Rickie Fowler (1:20), Justin Rose (2:10 p.m.), Dustin Johnson (2:30 p.m.) and Adam Scott (2:40 p.m.).
Torch? What torch?
Koepka posted a 36-hole score that was seven strokes better than anyone and 17 better than Woods, his playing partner over the first two days. There still are two rounds to go but the dominance reminded people of Woods’ performance at the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. Woods led by six at the halfway mark that year.
So the question posed to Koepka after Friday’s round was: Did the fans who followed his group on Friday witness a passing of the torch for best player in the game?