Daily Wrap-up: The Barclays, Round 3August 24, 2013
By PGATOUR.COM wire reports
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland began their week at The Barclays by going to Citi Field and getting a tour of the clubhouse, where Kuchar noticed an indoor batting cage and asked if they could try it out. He stood behind the net and threw to Woodland, a promising baseball player in high school.
"Gary hit and was really impressive," Kuchar said. "I didn't hit and didn't show anything differently, but Gary was impressive swinging a baseball bat."
Woodland isn't too bad with a golf club in his hands, either.
Playing with Kuchar in the final group, Woodland ran off four straight birdies Saturday afternoon with another powerful display of his athleticism and shot a 3-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Kuchar going into the final round at Liberty National in the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs.
"Man, that guy can play some golf," Kuchar said, knowing that Woodland was within earshot.
Kuchar, who played bogey-free on the back nine in blustery conditions for a 70, remains more polished. He already has two wins this year, at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, and he is a past champion at The Barclays.
For much of the day they were trading birdies -- along with a few bad breaks -- and wound up tied at 12-under 201.
Kuchar's from off the green on the reachable par-4 16th was stopped by a sprinkler, while Woodland putted his to close range for birdie. Woodland gave back the stroke on the next hole with a drive that plugged into the far end of the bunker, forcing him to blast it out sideways and costing him a bogey.
They are close friends and former World Cup partners.
But the final round at Liberty National doesn't belong to only them. Kevin Chappell broke the tournament course record with a 62 -- 10 shots better than the average score on Saturday -- and was one shot behind.
"In the wind, if you would have told me someone was going to shoot 62 today, I would probably have laughed at you," Chappell said.
And very much in the mix was Tiger Woods, bad back and all. Woods was just hanging around for so much of the day, gingerly bending over to put his ball on a tee and retrieve it out of the cup. His fortunes turned with two strong shots on the par-5 13th led to birdie, he drove the 16th green for another birdie and finished with a 10-foot birdie putt and a 69. Woods was four shots behind, along with David Lynn, who also had a 69.
"It starts off great every day, and then it progressively deteriorates as the day goes on," Woods said of his lower back, which he hurt from what he said was a soft bed in his hotel room. "Hopefully, tomorrow it will be one of those days again. Fight through it and see if I can win a tournament."
The large group at 7-under 206 included 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
Chappell's round was evidence that even in windy conditions, low scores are available. For the former UCLA Bruin, it really was as simple as making putts, most of them in that 10-foot to 15-foot range. There were a few par saves on the back nine, and six birdies on the front.
"I just really holed all the putts that you kind of expect to hold but you don't always hole," he said.
Kuchar and Woodland will be in the final group for the second straight day, and they certainly aren't strangers.
Kuchar represented the Americans in the World Cup two years ago in China. After scouting the Mission Hills course and seeing it was long, he picked Woodland as his partner. The Americans wound up winning their first World Cup title in over a decade.
Woodland, projected to move from 60th to third in the FedExCup standings, is regarded as one of the best athletes on TOUR -- a promising baseball player in high school who first went to a Division II school to play basketball and then transferred to Kansas to play golf.
But he has disappeared since winning at Innisbrook two years ago, mainly from injuries to both wrists. He began working with Claude Harmon III in the spring, and he hired mental coach Julie Elion right before his season turned around by winning the Reno-Tahoe Open earlier this month.
"I've really let my game take over," Woodland said.
He surged into the lead during a four-hole stretch to close out the back nine -- a 5-iron into the par-5 sixth, a sand wedge to 10 feet for birdie on No. 7, a 4-wood for his second shot on the par-5 eighth for birdie, and a 6-iron for a fourth straight birdie on the ninth. Even on the 16th hole, which played 289 yards, Woodland has so much power than he went with a 2-iron and came up just short.
Kuchar, who would move to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with a win, caught up by playing bogey-free on the back nine with three birdies, starting with a superb shot on the 10th to 3 feet.
DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy had an even-par 71 and was six shots out of the lead. ... Aaron Baddeley shot 66, and at No. 119 in the FedExCup standings, stands a good chance of being among the top 100 players to advance to the second Playoffs event next week outside Boston. ... Greg Chalmers made a hole-in-one on the 135-yard 14th, with the Statue of Liberty in view to the right. In the next group, K.J. Choi also made an ace. ... Chappell has gone 25 consecutive holes without a bogey.
About the leaders: Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland • Matt Kuchar, winner of The Barclays 2010 and runner-up in 2011, played 23 holes on Saturday to complete five holes of his second round and play a full third round.
• Kuchar has held or shared a 54-hole lead three previous times in his career and has gone on to win two of those events: 2009 Turning Stone Resort Championship (tied for the lead through three rounds) and 2013 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. He also led the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial through three rounds (finished runner-up, one stroke behind winner Boo Weekley).
• Kuchar's four other PGA TOUR wins have been come-from-behind victories, including his win at The Barclays 2010. Kuchar was five strokes down to Martin Laird starting the final-round and shot a 66 (-5) to force a playoff with Laird, which he eventually won on the first hole. Kuchar's win tied the tournament record for largest come-from-behind victory (Bobby Nichols, 1973; Vijay Singh, 1993).
• A win this week would make Matt Kuchar only the second player to win the same FedExCup Playoffs event more than once (Tiger Woods: 2007, 2009 BMW Championship). He would join a list of seven other players with more than one Playoffs event win: Tiger Woods (3); Steve Stricker (2); Vijay Singh (2); Dustin Johnson (2); Camilo Villegas (2); Rory McIlroy (2); and Phil Mickelson (2). • Kuchar enters the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 2 in the standings, the highest in the rankings he has ever begun the Playoffs. Kuchar has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA TOUR since 2009, with five of his six career wins and 41 top-10 finishes. The Georgia Tech graduate recorded his first multi-win season in 2013 with wins at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. • Kuchar’s best finish in the FedExCup came in 2010 (the year he won The Barclays) when he finished No. 2 behind Jim Furyk. At The Barclays in 2009 – at Liberty National – Kuchar finished T28. • Since the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, Kuchar has only missed three cuts in his last 79 PGA TOUR events. • A win this week would make Kuchar one of only six players with more than one victory at The Barclays, a tournament that began in 1967. Four of the five are World Golf Hall of Fame members: Vijay Singh (4); Jack Nicklaus (2); Seve Ballesteros (2); Ernie Els (2); and Sergio Garcia (2).
• Gary Woodland has never held the outright lead at a PGA TOUR stroke-play event. He has shared the lead three previous times: after round 1 of the 2011 Children's Miracle Network Classic, eventually finishing T12; and after the third and fourth round of the 2011 Bob Hope Classic, eventually finishing T2. The Bob Hope Clasic is a 90-hole event. Woodland's most recent win, the 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open, uses a Modified Stableford scoring format. He was leading by seven points entering the final round and won by nine points. • Woodland has made six or more birdies in all three rounds so far: first round (6), second round (8), third round (6). • With a win this week at The Barclays, Woodland would join Tiger Woods (5), Matt Kuchar (2), Brandt Snedeker (2) and Phil Mickelson (2) as the only multiple winners on TOUR this season. • Woodland, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR (2011 Tampa Bay Championship, 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open), is looking to reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the second time in his career, having finished the 2011 FedExCup Playoffs 17th in the standings the only other time he qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs.