ST. LOUIS — Brooks Koepka was working out in a public gym with Dustin Johnson on Saturday morning before his afternoon PGA Championship tee time and there was a bit of clamoring from the locals in there as they were about to leave.
“Everyone wanted a picture with Dustin,’’ Koepka said. “They were talking about him as we left and I was just standing there laughing.’’
One person, who had no idea who Koepka was, asked him, “Did you see that the No. 1 player in the world was here?’’
“I don’t know what to say to that,’’ Koepka said. “It was like, ‘All right.’ ”
Maybe the muscle heads in the gym will better recognize Johnson’s anonymous workout buddy if he’s able to close the deal on the two-shot lead he takes into the PGA Championship final round Sunday at Bellerive Country Club.
If Koepka, who shot 66 in Saturday’s third round to get to 12-under for the tournament, wins, the reigning U.S. Open champion will have captured his second major championship of the season and third in the past seven he has played in the last two years.
Fourteen players are within five shots of Koepka’s lead entering the final round, which could make for an epic showdown to the finish.
Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters winner, is two shots back at 10-under after shooting a second consecutive 65. Rickie Fowler, trying to finally break down the door and win his first major after eight top-five finishes, is tied with Gary Woodland at 9-under.
And then there is Tiger Woods, who has carded 66 in each of his past two rounds, positioned to capture his 15th career major championship and first since 2008. Woods is tied with his close friend Jason Day as well as defending champion Justin Thomas, Stewart Cink, Shane Lowry and Charl Schwartzel at 8-under.
There are so many delicious storylines entering the final day of this PGA, it’s dizzying.
“I’m just focused on me,’’ Koepka said. “I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament. Yeah, there’s a lot of star power, and it should be, it’s a major championship. You should see the best players in the world come to the top. And that’s what you have, and that’s what’s going to make this event very exciting to watch [Sunday].
“With so many big names, you would expect two or three of them to really make a run, make a push to get off to a good start and challenge me. Everybody out here is so good, and you look at this leaderboard and it’s just, they are names that I’ve grown up watching that everybody else loves to watch play, and it should be an exciting day.’’
Scott and Day are both on special missions — winning for their fallen Aussie mate, Jarrod Lyle, who died on Wednesday after a courageous 20-year battle with leukemia. Scott and some other Aussies got together on Friday night at the rented house of fellow Aussie Marc Leishman and raised a few pints to salute Lyle amidst tears and beers.
“It would be more than twice the thrill for me, but I think no matter who wins, I think if that person has met Jarrod Lyle, then they will have felt something with him passing this week,’’ Scott said. “I don’t even really know if we have all really had time to reflect on it and let it sink in. But I think that a part of everyone’s playing for Jarrod out here this week.’’
Perhaps no player needs to win more badly than Fowler, whose lack of a major championship has become a major issue.
“It will be fun,’’ Fowler said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to take a solid round of golf from whoever’s going to win because there’s a lot of guys. Obviously, Brooks out front, but a lot of guys from 10- to 7-under. It’s not going to be given to anyone.’’
For Rahm, who’s only 23, this is as close as he has been to tasting a major win.
“I dare to dream in the fact of accomplishing one of my goals this year, which is having a chance on a Sunday in a major,’’ Rahm said. “To be honest, right now is not the time to think about what would it feel like to win. We still have 18 holes to play. If by any chance, by any possibility I hit a shot into 18 green to within easy two-putt range and I have more than a one-shot lead, at that point, I allow myself to dream. Until then, until the last putt is made, anything could happen.’’