Kaymer shows character to earn place in play-off

German Martin Kaymer and American Bubba Watson went into a three-hole play-off for the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last night after Watson's compatriot Dustin Johnson dramatically suffered a two-stroke penalty on the final hole.

Johnson, who blew the US Open with an 82 in June, would have been part of the shoot-out as well, but was penalised for grounding his club on sand before his second shot.

That left Kaymer and Watson to go head to head – and moved 21-year-old Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy joint third with former Masters champion Zach Johnson, whose namesake Dustin dropped to fifth.

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McIlroy just missed out on the play-off after failing to make a 15-foot birdie putt on the last.

He closed with a 72 and was also left to rue a bogey on the 15th after he had climbed into the lead.

Watson had set the target of 11 under par with a 68 before Kaymer, trying to give Europe their second major out of three following Graeme McDowell's US Open triumph, made a 12-foot par putt on the last to tie him.

Only two months ago Johnson had a three-shot lead with 18 holes to play in the US Open, but double-bogeyed the second hole, doubled the third and shot 82.

This time he set off three behind Nick Watney, who in a similar nightmare double-bogeyed the first, triple-bogeyed the seventh and slumped to 18th with an 81.

Meanwhile, Kaymer's performance knocked Luke Donald out of an automatic qualifying place on the Ryder Cup table and left him needing a wild card along with Padraig Harrington.

However, Paul Casey's surge into joint 12th spot was just enough to lift him above Harrington into the ninth and last qualifying spot.

There are two weeks left, though, and he could still be overtaken – especially as he is staying in America rather than going back for the race-ending Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Johnson's bid to make amends for Pebble Beach hit trouble with bogeys on the third and fourth, but it was nothing compared to Watney.

He dropped another shot at the third and, after a birdie on the driveable sixth hinted that he might have settled, he promptly hit his tee shot to the short seventh into Lake Michigan, ran up a six and completed a front-nine 43 with two more bogeys.

By then Kaymer had become the man to catch. He birdied the second and fourth, was lucky to avoid the water on the fifth, but then saved a great par from 10 feet at the eighth.

Out in 34, he started for home with another birdie, but then had to try to withstand a mounting challenge.

Watson caught him with a two-putt birdie on the long 16th, only to go down the cliff edge left of the green at the short 17th.

As he bogeyed there, though, Kaymer failed to get up and down from just off the green at the 15th.

That brought McIlroy into the joint lead as he had just made a 10-footer on the 14th.

Malton's Simon Dyson showed his battling qualities as he overcome an awful mid-round spell, in which he dropped five shots in six holes, to close with a level-par 72.

Dyson birdied the fifth and sixth holes to elevate himself to eight under before a horrendous run in which he stumbled at holes seven to nine and the 11th and 12th.

He steadied himself with a par at 13 and then birdied 14, 16 and 17 on the way in for a 282 four-round total (71 71 68 72) to tie for 12th place.

Earlier Ian Poulter pulled out ahead of his final round yesterday with a chest infection.

"Guys, it's a no go this morning, body is not strong enough, had to withdraw," Poulter said on his Twitter site.

Asthmatic Poulter was lying last of the halfway qualifiers on five over par after rounds of 72, 72 and 77 in the last major of the season.

The Ryder Cup, of course, is still six weeks away and the top-scorer two years ago has done enough already to be sure of qualifying.

Poulter is due back in action at the first event of the FedEx Cup play-off series on Thursday week. By then Colin Montgomerie will have a clearer picture of where he stands with his three captain's picks.

Rotherham's Danny Willett missed the cut in Wisconsin with two rounds of 74.