As much of the field jockeys to try and get inside the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings to secure a spot in the Tour Championship, a star-studded top of the leaderboard will play for a bit more Sunday at the BMW Championship.
Article continues below ...
Jim Furyk will carry a one-shot lead into the final round over Steve Stricker, while the likes of Brandt Snedeker (two back), Zach Johnson (three back) and Tiger Woods (four back) will try to chase Furyk down.
Here are 5 Things to Know about Saturday’s third round at Conway Farms:
1. WOODS SPEAKS: The second round was dominated by Jim Furyk’s historic 59, but at almost the same time that Furyk was walking off the ninth green after tapping in his birdie putt, Tiger Woods was entering the scoring trailer – to a big surprise.
He was being assessed a two-shot penalty for moving a twig that caused his ball to move – but the reaction was one-sided since Woods left the course without talking to the media.
Woods didn’t avoid the questions Saturday after a 5-under 66 vaulted him into contention at 9 under overall – just four off the lead.
“It’s one of those things where I thought the ball oscillated, and I thought that was it,” Woods said of the incident. “I played the shot, played the round; and then Slugger (White) and Tyler (Dennis) in there, they replayed it and gave me two.”
Dennis and White are PGA Tour rules officials. The replay came on a computer monitor, which Woods viewed multiple times before turning his card in.
Even though Woods acquiesced to the penalty, he maintained his innocence.
“After seeing the video I thought the ball just oscillated, and I thought that was it,” Woods said. “I thought that was the end of story. But they saw otherwise.
"I was pretty hot," said Woods. "I felt, like I said, that nothing happened. I felt the ball oscillated and that was it. I played the rest of the round, grinded my tail off to get myself back in the tournament. (Then) to go from five to seven behind, that was tough."
Woods said the incident hadn’t motivated him going into Saturday’s round, but he knew it was going to be hard.
“When situations like that happen, I had to fight, and I fought my tail off today, and I’m very proud of that, and I got myself back in the tournament,” Woods said.
"It’s hard. There are lots of thoughts going on last night. But the sun comes up in the east. It’s a new day."
2. THE NEXT DAY: Jim Furyk was the sixth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 when he tapped in a 3-footer on his last hole in Friday’s second round.
Furyk knew it was a milestone and suggested he would celebrate a little more then usual, but also knew he had two rounds to go.
In shooting a 2-under 69 Saturday, the 2003 US Open champion was right on the average of 69.33 that those six players shot the round after their 59.
Al Geiberger shot the first 59 in the second round of the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. He followed that up with an even-par 72 in Saturday’s third round and would win by three on Sunday.
Chip Beck shot a 68 in the fourth round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational and would finish third.
Paul Goydos opened the 2010 John Deere Classic with a 59 and followed that up with a second-round 68 and finished second.
“I think it’s always difficult, even if you go out and fire a 62 or a 63, it’s always difficult to kind of follow that up with a low number, and it probably took me a few holes to really get in the flow out there and feel good,” Furyk said. “Made a couple mental errors, I felt, on the front nine with shots and hitting shots in the front places, short-sided myself a couple times."
3. MAKING A MOVE: Nick Watney missed consecutive cuts at the PGA and Wyndham Championships, but he felt he had made the right decision leaving Claude Harmon III and moving to Todd Anderson as his swing coach.
Both Anderson and Watney knew it would take some time to get his swing where it needed to be, but a month after missing the Wyndham cut, Watney finds himself in a position to be playing in Atlanta next week.
“I feel like good things were coming, and I’m definitely very encouraged by my play,” Watney said after a third-round 70 that leaves him six shots back of Furyk.
“I’m glad it’s happening now. The reason that I made the switch is to play better, so I expected to play better, but it’s just a matter of time, and hopefully it extends into tomorrow and I can keep playing.”
Watney entered the playoffs 63rd in the FedEx Cup standings, but after a T-9 at The Barclays and a T-35 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he came to Chicago No. 34 on the list and was projected to need a top-10 finish to move on.
He’s T-8 heading into Sunday.
“I hit it kind of off the planet on a couple of shots,” Watney said. “I’ve still got some loose ones in there, unfortunately, but it’s becoming better and better, and the thing that I do like is – most of the time – I know my shot. I know, even if I miss it, I know where it’s going to go, and that’s big.”
One loose shot cost Watney a penalty stroke. On the short ninth hole, Watney hit his tee shot right in the high grass and received relief form a scoreboard. But when he was taking some practice strokes, the ball moved – and he assessed himself a stroke.
“I knew the ball was just teetering, and I didn’t ground my club but I hit a couple of blades of the weed left of the ball, and then the ball moved,” Watney said. “I mean, I got a good break, then I got a bad break in the span of a minute.”
4. THE ODDSMAKERS SAY . . . The oddsmakers in Las Vegas believe that only eight players have a chance Sunday to win the BMW Championship, with Jim Furyk the 8/5 favorite.
Since his last win at the Tour Championship in 2010, Furyk has held or shared the 54-hole lead five times – failing to win each time. Just last month Furyk led the PGA Championship after three rounds and finished second.
In 2012, Furyk led the Transitions Championship and lost in a playoff; the U.S. Open and finished fourth; the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and was second; and the McGladrey Classic and finished third.
Here are the odds:
• Jim Furyk . . . 8/5
• Steve Stricker . . . 5/2
• Brandt Snedeker . . . 7/2
• Zach Johnson . . . 7/1
• Tiger Woods . . . 8/1
• Charl Schwartzel . . . 25/1
• Ryan Moore . . . 50/1
• Hunter Mahan . . . 80/1
• Field . . . 15/1
5. SHORT SHOTS: Going into the final round, the top five in the FedEx Cup playoff standings are Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Adam Scott . . . The third-round scoring average at Conway Farms was 70.286 and the three-round cumulative average is 70.895 . . . Matt Kuchar shot the best round of the day with a 10-under 61; he’s at 5 under overall, eight shots behind Furyk.