It's Elk season again

Something about the PGA Championship has Steve Elkington fired up again. Elkington, the 1995 PGA Champion, fired an inward 31 Saturday and is in eighth place heading to Sunday's final round.


A big finish this week would virtually secure Steve Elkington's full playing privileges for the 2011 PGA Tour. (Getty Images)

By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

KOHLER, Wis. -- Maybe Steve Elkington isn't finished after all.

The 47-year-old Australian, winner of the 1995 PGA Championship, only has status as a past champion on the PGA TOUR, which means he's has had to rely on the kindness of sponsors to get in a lot of events this season. He's managed to compete, but hasn't exactly been a regular contender, with only two top-10 finishes.

Still, there's something about the PGA Championship that seems to get his motor in gear. On Saturday, Elkington shot a 5-under 67 at Whistling Straits, which moved him into a tie for eighth entering the final round.

Elkington began the third round at 3-under 141 after rounds of 71 and 70. Playing with Tiger Woods, Elkington didn't seem to have anything special going, as he turned in 36. But things started to happen on the back nine, as Elkington birdied No. 9, 10, 11 and 12. A bogey at 13 was only a speed bump, as he tacked on birdies at No. 16 and 17 to score 31 on the backside.

The last time Elkington shot 67 at the PGA Championship was 1996, when he did it twice at Valhalla and tied for third. His lowest score at the season’s final major is 64, which he accomplished in the final round in 1995 at Riviera Country Club. Elkington used the magic from that round to defeat Colin Montgomerie on the first hole of sudden death and win his only major championship.

His best recent finish at the PGA was in 2005 at Baltusrol, where he tied for second, one shot behind Phil Mickelson. He didn't compete in 2006 and has missed the cut in two of the last three championships.

Elkington is coming off a tie for 10th at Turning Stone, where he closed with a 68. He's currently No. 109 on the PGA TOUR money list with earnings of $667,660. A big finish this week would virtually secure his playing privileges for next year.

Elkington had only three top-25s last year and finished 183rd on the money list, his worst finish since finishing 187th in 2003, when a shoulder injury limited him to 14 events.