By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Lee Westwood is glad to see he wasn't wrong.
He watched the FedExCup Playoffs on TV last year and came to the conclusion he was missing something. So Westwood re-joined the PGA TOUR and now, nearly three events into his first foray into the postseason, he likes what he sees.
What's not to like about a BMW Championship leaderboard that features six players who have won a combined total of 25 majors among the top 10? And Westwood, who tied for fifth and 13th in the first two Playoffs events, will enter the final round at Crooked Stick one shot off the lead held jointly by Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh at 16 under.
Westwood is tied with PGA champ Rory McIlroy, who leads both the FedExCup and the world rankings. Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Robert Garrigus are another shot behind while the indomitable Tiger Woods is alone at 13 under. Then you have Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Indiana's own Bo Van Pelt in a tie for ninth.
All are within four strokes of the lead, a deficit that can certainly be made up on Sunday given the damp conditions at Crooked Stick. Oh, and did we mention that four of the top eight on the leaderboard -- including Westwood -- have spent time as world No. 1s, as well?
"It's been great to play (the Playoffs)," Westwood said. "The PGA TOUR do a great job putting on these events. After the major championships there's some big tournaments to play for once the majors are gone, and they've managed to put together a great series. I'm looking forward to hopefully playing well tomorrow and getting into the TOUR Championship because I've never played there before."
Of course, Westwood's debut at East Lake is all but a foregone conclusion. The 39-year-old Englishman, who plans to base himself in South Florida next year, came to the BMW Championship ranked 23rd in the FedExCup -- well above the threshold of 30 who advance -- and he's currently projected at No. 11 in the race for the $10 million first prize.
Scott called the golf-starved Indiana crowd "rowdy" and the leaderboard "incredible." He said he's looking forward to the challenge as he seeks to win for the first time since last year's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, against another star-studded field.
"I'm glad I put myself in this position," Scott said.
Ditto for Louis Oosthuizen, who, like Westwood, is competing in the Playoffs for the firsts time in his career. The 2010 British Open champion is hardly out of it at 11 under, too.
"I had look when I walked down 18 and it's a great leaderboard," he said. "Tomorrow it's going to be a lot of fun. Phil's obviously playing well. Vijay is playing well. It's good to see those guys playing well. I think a a few youngsters have got to come through tomorrow and try and show the old guys."
One of those "old" guys, Mickelson, tied the course record on Saturday with a 64 that included 10 birdies. He agrees with Westwood that the Playoffs keep the game's best players competing against each other more often.
"It's been great for the TOUR where a number of players would shut it down after the PGA Championship, but now it's a huge motivating factor for us to keep our games sharp," he said. "It has the best players in the world competing against each other four additional times."
Johnson will be seeking to win for the third time in the Playoffs and his second BMW Championship in four years. He's not surprised by the quality of the leaderboard, either.
"Well, it's the Playoffs, so guys come to play golf," Johnson said simply. "... All the top guys in the world are playing over here now."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Saturday’s third round of the BMW Championship, the third event in the FedExCup Playoffs, is in the books. One more round remains before the top 30 in FedExCup points are set. Here’s a look at the key FedExCup moves and notes from Crooked Stick on Saturday:
NO. 1 WATCH: Rory McIlroy is one shot off the lead after three rounds but remains projected at No. 1. There are ways he could be knocked out of the top position, though, particularly if he slips down the leaderboard and Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson emerge as the winner.
BIGGEST MOVERS: Here are the biggest movers in the FedExCup standings after the third round.
|Player||Scoreboard position||FEC position||FEC projection after Rd. 3||Movement|
BUBBLE WATCH: Kyle Stanley, who started the week on the FedExCup hot seat at No. 30, remains on the bubble entering the last round. He shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for 18th on the leaderboard. That projects him to 30th in the FedExCup standings.
TOP FIVE WATCH: Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh are tied for the lead and thus each are projected to get the 2,500 points for winning. A win by either one would move that player into the top five in the standings – Mickelson would move to second, Singh would move to fifth. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods would remain in the top five, along with Nick Watney. The fifth position, though, is still up for grabs.
MOVING IN/MOVING OUT: Only the top 30 in FedExCup points advance to the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs in two weeks – the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake in Atlanta, Ga. Here’s a look at the players outside the top 30 who are projected to move inside the top 30 after three rounds:
|Moving in||Movement||Moving out||Movement|
|Vijay Singh||49 to 5||John Senden||26 to 31|
|Robert Garrigus||31 to 25||Scott Piercy||29 to 34|
ODDS & ENDS: It’s last call for players who are outside the top 30. After the final round at Crooked Stick, 40 of the 70 players in the field will be eliminated from the FedExCup Playoffs. Graeme McDowell is one of those currently projected outside the top 30, even though he’s tied for ninth on the leaderboard. McDowell came into the week ranked 41st and is projected to 33rd. So he’s not that far away from making it to East Lake – he needs to make up two strokes. But he doesn’t plan to peek at any leaderboards. “I’m not going to watch the scoreboard; I certainly won’t be looking at my projected FedEx,” he said. “I’ll be more concerned how I stand in this golf tournament.” …
Of the five players tied for 12th place at 11 under, four of them are outside the top 30 – Chris Kirk, Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington and Ryan Moore. They’ve at least given themselves a chance to vault up the projections with a hot round Sunday. The other player tied for 12th, Louis Oosthuizen, is safely inside the top 30 but he also has plenty to play for. He started the week ranked fifth in points and would love to stay inside the top five and control his own destiny at East Lake. …
Of the two players projected to move outside the top 30, John Senden has the best chance to move back inside. He’ll need to make up three strokes on the field Sunday. Scott Piercy, meanwhile, will need to make up seven strokes on the field …
Of the players in the 30-40 range coming into this week, Johnson Wagner, Kevin Stadler and Bud Cauley have the biggest mountains to climb Sunday. Wagner needs to make up eight strokes; Stadler and Cauley need to make up 10 strokes each.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- It was a good news, bad news kind of day for Vijay Singh. Or, as he put it, a "mixed plate."
He made seven birdies, but he also had four bogeys, including three in his last five holes. Even so, Singh starts the final round of the BMW Championship tied for the lead at 16 under with Phil Mickelson, so he couldn't be too disappointed.
"I'm striking the ball well and I'm putting well, which kept me going," Singh said. "A round like this, I'm still in there and gives me a chance tomorrow."
Singh, who turns 50 in February, will be looking to win for the 35th time in his World Golf Hall of Fame career -- and the first time in four years. He also happened to win the FedExCup that season, capturing the first two Playoffs events in 2008.
The Fijian has had a total of 13 top-10s since his last win, including two in his last five starts. Last month at the PGA, he even had his eyes set on adding a fourth major to his haul when he took a share of the lead into the weekend at Kiawah Island but ended up tied for 36th after rounds of 74-77.
"I've got to be careful not to force myself," Singh said. "There's a lot of chances out there, and if I don't win tomorrow, I'll still have a lot of chances until the end of the year and next year, as well. ... I'm going to go out there and play my game and see what happens."
Singh, who is one of 12 players to break 70 in the first three rounds, is encouraged by the way he responded on Saturday. He never relinquished the lead and when the disappointing bogeys started coming, he answered the first two with birdies to keep pace with Mickelson.
"Today's round could have got away from me, but I really dug deep and really focused hard on that," Singh said. "We'll see what I can do. I'm going to be aggressive, and I have a chance to win the tournament."
Singh also has the opportunity to move on to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake, where Singh has 12 top-10s. including one win, in 16 appearances. He entered the week ranked 49th in the FedExCup and needs to finish fourth or better to move on.
His sights are clearly set higher, though.
"I'm really not worried about it," Singh said. "I'm worried about trying to go out there and finish this tournament."
Check out the best shots from third-round action as seen in LIVE@ coverage of the BMW Championship from Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Mickelson shot an 8-under 64 while Singh finished with a 3-under 69 on Saturday to end the day at 16 under. Singh had started the day with the 36-hole lead.
One stroke back at 15 under are Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, with Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Robert Garrigus in a tie for fifth at 14 under.
Tiger Woods is in solo eighth at 13 under, while Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Indiana native Bo Van Pelt are tied at 12 under.
Of those top 11 names on the leaderboard, six of them have combined to win 25 majors – Woods (14), Mickelson (4), Singh (3), McIlroy (2), Johnson (1) and McDowell (1).
“It’s an incredible leaderboard,” Scott said after shooting a 6-under 66. “It’s going to be fun.”
Mickelson started the day in a tie for 13th but shot the low round on Saturday by two strokes. He finished an hour earlier than Singh, who will be his playing partner in Sunday’s final round.
“It was a fun day,” Mickelson said. “I got it going with the putter.”
The 49-year-old Singh never relinquished the lead and came to the 18th hole leading by a stroke. But he three-putted from 43-1/2 feet to drop into a tie with Mickelson. It’s the first three-putt Singh has suffered all week.
“Today’s round could have got away from me, but I really dug deep,” Singh said.
McIlroy birdied the final hole and now finds himself in better shape that he was entering the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday. McIlroy was three back to start the day but ended up winning the tournament and moving to No. 1 in FedExCup points.
“I’m in great position and excited about tomorrow,” McIlroy said.
Sunday’s final round will begin at 8:05 a.m. ET, with Mickelson and Singh scheduled to tee off at 1:45 p.m. ET.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- He didn't strike the ball particularly well. Suffered a bogey on one of the par-5 holes. Failed to birdie another of the par-5 holes when he three-putted from 20 feet.
Yet Rory Mcilroy's still in great shape to win his second consecutive tournament and third in his last four starts.
"It wasn't the greatest ball-striking round out there that I've ever had," McIlroy said, "but somehow managed to scrape it around in 69 and still in with a chance.
"As badly as I did hit it out there, I'm still happy with my position going into tomorrow."
McIlroy had one of the best ball-striking rounds of his career in shooting 64 in the opening round this week. On Saturday, however, he managed to hit just 9 of 18 greens in regulation. In suffering his only bogey of the day, at the par-5 ninth, he followed a poor tee shot with an even worse second shot.
But as befits his round, he bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 10th from 11 feet, then added a couple of late birdies to climb back up the leaderboard.
"I'm only one back," McIlroy said. "Phil obviously played well today (shooting the day's low round, a 64). You know, he might go out there and shoot the same number again tomorrow.
"But I just have to concentrate on myself and try and do the best that I can."
Adam Scott holes a 16-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 18th hole to shoot 66.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Tee to green, Adam Scott has been extremely pleased.
His putter hasn't been very cooperative, though -- that is, until Saturday at Crooked Stick. Scott used just 25 putts in a round of 66 that vaulted him up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth, just two strokes off the lead.
"(My iron play has) been good all week and last week, and today is the first day that I've gotten any rhythm with the putter, and it took missing a few greens early on and I had to scramble to actually make some putts," Scott said. "But that was kind of a blessing in disguise, I think."
The Aussie really got untracked as he made the turn -- making a 9-footer at the ninth and a 16-footer at No. 12 while two-putting the two par-5s in between from 24 and 50 feet, respectively. Scott then made a 2-footer at the 15th hole before missing the green at the 17th on the way to his only bogey. But he got that shot back with a closing birdie to end 54 holes at 14 under.
"Obviously to have any chance to contend tomorrow I had to make some sort of a move, and it all kind of came together around the turn, and I played fairly solid," Scott said. "Disappointing to drop one coming in because I'm making a habit of that, but I picked one up on the last, and that was important."
Scott, who tied for seventh last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, is looking for his first victory of the season. He's got some momentum, though, and he knows the third round leader has only gone on to win 13 of 38 events this year.
"I'm not in the best position, but coming from a few back seems to be the way to go at the moment in golf," he said. "You never know, if I can get off to a hot start and put myself in the mix, there are opportunities out there. We've seen a bunch of 64s made or even lower."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- The last piece of the puzzle was the putting. And when that modified claw grip had Phil Mickelson feeling comfortable on the greens again, he knew it was only a matter of time.
As in, now.
Four rounds in the 60s last week had paved the way to a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. So Mickelson was looking for a good week at the BMW Championship -- and through three rounds he's certainly delivered.
Mickelson became the sixth player to tie the Crooked Stick course record this week, firing a 64 on Saturday that came courtesy of 10 birdies. The round was his lowest since he shot 64 on Sunday to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February -- and the way things are going at Crooked Stick this week, he just might need another.
Mickelson will start Sunday’s final round tied at 16 under with Vijay Singh, and between them, the two have seven major championships. Of course, six of the top 10 players on the leaderboard have a combined total of 25 majors – and all are within four strokes of the lead -- so that should get everyone's juices flowing.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's shootout," Mickelson said. "It should be fun."
Mickelson wasn't having much fun earlier in the year, though. Since that tie for third at the Masters, fueled by a triple bogey at the fourth hole on Sunday, he'd only had one top-10 finish -- until last week at TPC Boston.
"It's taken me a little while to piece it back together, but I could tell last week that my game was back and I was ready to play at the highest level again," Mickelson said. "... I came out very anxious on Thursday and forced it a little too much the front nine and didn't play a good nine holes. But after that I've been able to settle down and play some good golf."
Mickelson says he knows exactly what happened but "I really don't want to discuss it." He's just happy things are back headed in the right direction with the FedExCup Playoffs winding down to what is shaping up to be a stellar conclusion at East Lake and the Ryder Cup on the horizon.
That said, Mickelson, who is nothing if not analytical at work and play, called the last several months a "great" experience because he's been able to dissect all the facets of his game. Once he did, the wildly popular World Golf Hall of Famer knew what to focus on, and the results are showing now.
"When was it its best? What was I doing then that made it its best? How do I practice? How do I hit the shots? What allows me to have good distance control, trajectory, all those things?" Mickelson said, ticking off the checklist.
"Although it's taken me three, four months of poor play, I feel like now it's back to a level where I'm going to start playing the way I know I'm capable of playing."
From Elias Sports Bureau
> Phil Mickelson made six birdies in the first round of the BMW Championship, seven birdies in the second round and 10 birdies in Saturday’s third round. It’s been nearly seven years since a player began a PGA TOUR event with six or more par breakers and increased that total each of the next two rounds; the previous instance was by Harrison Frazar at the 2005 FUNAI Classic. Mickelson last accomplished this feat at the 2001 Compaq Classic of New Orleans.
> D.A. Points made six consecutive birdies at the BMW Championship in the third round. It’s the longest streak of par breakers for Points in his career; his previous high was five at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. In the last 10 years at the BMW Championship, the only other player to birdie six consecutive holes was Jim Furyk in 2008 (six straight from the second through the third rounds).
> Dustin Johnson went 34 consecutive holes at the BMW Championship without a bogey -- from the 14th hole in the first round to the 13th hole in the third round without a hole played over par. In his career, Johnson has only had one other streak of 34 or more holes played without a bogey on the PGA TOUR; he went 36 holes at the 2009 World Golf Championships-CA Championship.
> Ben Curtis got himself back in position at the BMW Championship with five consecutive birdies in the third round. Curtis’ streak of five consecutive birdies tied his career high on the PGA TOUR. He made five consecutive par breakers at the 2006 Booz Allen Classic and at the 2004 FUNAI Classic.