HAVEN (Wisconsin) • No sequence exemplified the madcap, can-you-top-this personality of the third round at the PGA Championship as perfectly as golfer Matt Jones' shot from the blue carpet of a hospitality tent.
On the ninth hole on Saturday, the Australian, who was leading the event then, hit his tee shot so far left that it morphed from wayward drive into party-crashing missile.
No one was hurt. Jones burst into the tent, sidestepped the shrimp cocktail and saw opportunity.
Soon, he was standing over his ball and hitting through an opening in the canvas tent, rocketing a shot that zipped over the heads of hundreds of fans and came to rest pin high just left of the ninth green.
Surely, such a miraculous recovery would hasten his ascent up the leaderboard. But Saturday's golf defied convention. He bogeyed that hole and was soon caught by his playing partner, Jason Day.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP 2015
(USA unless stated)
201 Jason Day (Aus) 68 67 66
203 Jordan Spieth 71 67 65
204 Justin Rose (Eng) 69 67 68, Branden Grace (Rsa) 71 69 64
205 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 70 70 65
206 Tony Finau 71 66 69, Matt Jones (Aus) 68 65 73
207 Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 70 67 70, Dustin Johnson 66 73 68
208 Matt Kuchar 68 72 68, J.B. Holmes 68 71 69, Billy Horschel 72 68 68
Day shot a 66 to post a 15-under total of 201 for a two-stroke lead entering the event's final day.
Jones was tied for sixth place at 10 under after carding a 73.
But a host of dogged contenders are nipping at Day's heels, most notably Jordan Spieth. He will play in the final group with Day and bid to become the first golfer to win the Masters, US Open and PGA Championship in the same year.
"Just to try to get my name on the Wanamaker Trophy... that's the only history I'll be thinking of," said the American.
He can also seize the No. 1 world ranking from Rory McIlroy, who carded a 68 for a total of 210.
Spieth, after one birdie and eight pars on his front nine, birdied six of his last nine holes to finish with a 65 that took him to 13 under for the tournament.
His 30 on the back nine came after he had drifted to the bottom of the leaderboard and seemed destined to be an afterthought.
But nothing went as planned on Saturday at Whistling Straits.
Said Day: "There were a lot of highs and lows, I guess."
He has not won a Major but was in the top 10 at both the US Open and British Open this year.
"You could get in perfect spots and bad spots. But overall, for me, this was a good day."
His third round was as capricious as most, with eight birdies, an eagle, two bogeys and a double bogey.
However, he was consistent on the greens, where he needed only 24 putts.
Lurking and waiting to spoil the focus on the featured final pairing will be seven other golfers who are within six strokes of the lead, including Dustin Johnson who is at nine under.
Justin Rose of England, the US Open champion two years ago, botched a three-foot eagle putt on the 11th hole.
But he mixed birdies and bogeys the rest of the way to shoot 68 and tie South African Branden Grace for third place at 12 under.
Grace (64) fired the lowest round of the day, capping his bogey-free afternoon at the last when he holed out from a bunker that was next to the 18th green.
But the highlight in a day of highlights remained Jones' expedition into the hospitality tent, where fans were taking pictures and videos as he was executing his shot.
The golfer left to a procession of high fives.
"When I got in there, I was pretty happy where the ball was.
"There were a lot of cameras clicking, and I just had to deal with it, because no one is going to be able to control a crowd like that," Jones said of the moments before he unleashed his wedge.
"So I just hit my shot. It was crazy."
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE