Kevin Kisner’s second shot from the fairway at the 18th hole Sunday evening was over-hooked and wound up in the creek beside the green, washing away his chance at winning the PGA Championship.
He needed to hole that shot to tie Justin Thomas, but realistically Kisner’s fortunes fell with back-to-back bogeys at the par-4 12th and the par-3 13th, which dropped him from the lead and turned him into a chaser instead of the one who was pursued.
Kisner, who started Sunday as the leader of the PGA Championship, frittered away his first big major chance with some nervous-looking golf in the late afternoon on the final day.
A double bogey at the final hole ended a 74 that put him at 4-under 280, four shots behind Thomas, who won his first major championship. For Kisner to have reversed roles with Thomas, he needed to do the one thing that got him into the lead to begin with – hit his driver in the fairway.
Early in his round, he was wayward with his driver but found a way to make par at the first six holes. Where his day started to come undone was at the par-5 7th hole, reachable in two shots by most of the field.
Kisner’s second shot peeled off to the right and found the water. He wound up with a bogey at a hole he expects to make birdie.
“Oh, man. No. 7 is going to haunt me, hitting in the water short there,” said Kisner, who is from Aiken, S.C. “I actually went back for one more club and got too greedy with it. That’s one of the holes I have to make 4 on to compete, and walk away with 6 was painful.”
He got it back with a birdie at the par-5 10th but missed the green at the 12th and 13th, failing to get up and down either time. He made a brave run near the end, making birdies at the par-3 14th and par-5 15th to get to 7 under for the championship, one shot behind Thomas.
But Kisner three-putted for bogey from more than 90 feet on the par-4 16th while Thomas was making about a 12-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th, which put Kisner three shots behind with two holes to play. And the run was over.
“I didn't make the putts that I have been making the first two days over the weekend,” Kisner said. “A lot of misses inside 10 feet, and at some point, length is going to catch up with me. And guys hitting it 30 yards by me (off the tee) have an advantage if I'm not making putts inside 10 feet.”
In the end, he knows he was done in by the last three holes at Quail Hollow, the Green Mile.
“Yeah, what did I play, the last three 6 over in the last two days? That's not going to be fun to look at," he said. "I thought I had to get to 10 (under par) starting the day to win and that was about right. I had every opportunity. I just didn't finish it off."