Birdie from back pocket boosts Blixt's chances
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Jonas Blixt has made birdies from some unusual places throughout his career. But nothing could match what he produced on Saturday on the way to a third-round 66 that left him in contention for the PGA Championship.
Blixt’s tee shot on the 18th hole drifted left and was headed toward the deep rough when it landed in the back pocket of a fan. Rules official John Paramor rolled up in a cart, shook his head in disbelief and gave Blixt a free drop.
Blixt took relief and scorched a 5-iron onto the green and made the putt. It was his fourth birdie during a bogey-free round and matched his low score of the year. The only other 66 Blixt has made this season occurred during the Greenbrier Classic, which he went on to win.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “I was very fortunate he was standing where he was so I didn’t have to deal with too many trees and stuff like that. Got a lucky bounce up the hill and trickled to three feet.”
Blixt, a second-year pro who is playing in the PGA Championship for the first time, had a consistent day. He hit only seven fairways, but managed to get up-and-down to save par on the other seven occasions. He hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation and needed only 25 putts.
Blixt seems unbothered by the pressure at the PGA Championship. He is competing in only his second major championship; he tied for 26th at the Open Championship last month. He began the day seven shots behind the leader, but said he didn’t have a goal in mind when the round started.
“I saw (the leaderboard) a couple of times. I had a good round going,” he said. “There was only black numbers up there and I was pretty much the only red one, so that was nice seeing that.”
Being in a contention to win a major championship is a new experience for Blixt, who has won two PGA Tour events. He promised to remain aggressive on Sunday.
“When I play well, I play aggressive,” he said. “I get a lot of criticism for that sometimes. If I don’t play aggressive then I wouldn’t be standing here. Tomorrow is another day, so we’ll see what happens.”