By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Rickie Fowler is wearing his traditional head-to-toe orange for the final round of The Barclays. He's not the only one.
Jonas Blixt, who is also sponsored by Puma and is paired with Fowler, showed up at Liberty National in the same outfit -- one he actually borrowed from Fowler.
The two had been talking about going all-orange if they ever played together on a Sunday. When Blixt found out they would be, he tried to get Puma to ship him the same outfit, only it wouldn't arrive by their 1 p.m. ET tee time.
"You can't plan for being paired in the final round," said Fowler, who had an extra pair of orange pants and an orange shirt that he left in Blixt's locker.
"It's a little tight," added Blixt, who is carrying an extra pair of pants in his golf bag just in case there should be a wardrobe malfunction.
Both are 7 under and five strokes off the lead.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar represented the United States and won the 2011 World Cup in China.
The two will play together again on Sunday at Liberty National, only this time, they'll be trying to beat each other and win The Barclays. A win would give Kuchar the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings heading into next week's second Playoffs event while Woodland could rise as high as third.
Here are some interesting facts about the two men who own the lead at 12 under.
>>> Matt Kuchar has held or shared a 54-hole lead three times previously 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).
>>> 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 tying for 12th; and after the third and fourth round of the 2011 Bob Hope Classic, eventually finishing tied for second. 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.
>>> Kuchar's four other PGA TOUR wins have been come-from-behind victories, including his win at The Barclays in 2010. Kuchar was five strokes down to Martin Laird starting the final-round and shot a 66 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 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).
>>> With a win this week at The Barclays, Woodland would join Tiger Woods (5), Kuchar (2), Brandt Snedeker (2) and Phil Mickelson (2) as the only multiple winners on TOUR this season.
>>> 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 grad 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 tied for 28th. Since the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, Kuchar has only missed three cuts in his last 79 PGA TOUR starts.
>>> 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.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- After the second round of The Barclays ended Saturday morning, Aaron Baddeley was still on the outside looking in.
The Aussie had started the week ranked 119th in the FedExCup standings, and he was still projected below the magic 100 number that determines the players who get to advance to next week's second Playoffs event.
A third-round 66, though, has not only given Baddeley a shot at a spot at the Deutsche Bank Championship field, he also has a chance to win his fourth PGA TOUR event here at Liberty National. Baddeley will start the final round at 6 under and six strokes off the lead held by Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
Baddeley, who has only missed the Deutsche Bank Championship once in the first six years of the FedExCup Playoffs, is currently projected at 74th in the standings, a jump of 45 spots. He's one of five players projected to move into the top 100 right now.
"This event is one of the most important events because of position in the FedExCup because there's so much movement," Baddeley said. "Like last year I was having a decent year and missed the cut at Barclays and I dropped like 25 spots or something. You can do it. You can move up a lot (like) Kevin Streelman and Martin Laird a few years ago. They went up into the top 10."
Baddeley found himself in this predicament after a sub-par year in which he posted just two top-10s and, at one stretch, missed 11 cuts in a row. But he says his practice sessions the first three days of this week have been "as good as it's been all year" and he looked forward to playing Liberty National and seeing what happened.
"It's been a challenging season, it really has," Baddeley said. "Setting a record for most missed cuts in a row for me. Just changing my swing a little bit. The last couple of years seeing my statistics, I haven't been very good with my ball-striking. Just want to find that. My putting stroke is as good as it's been. I'm just not hitting the ball."
Baddeley really got untracked on Saturday, making six birdies and an eagle while dropping three strokes to par. Look for the 32-year-old to be watching those big LED scoreboards during the final round so he can see what he needs to do.
"Hopefully the leaders don't get too far away," Baddeley said. "I like (scoreboard updates). Especially when you're coming down the stretch. There were a couple of years coming down the stretch where I knew I had to make a birdie or I needed to make a par to move on to Boston or wherever it is."
Here are some of the key movers during the second round:
BUBBLE BOY: For the second straight day, it's William McGirt. He started the week ranked 92nd but missed the cut so now he must wait until play has concluded tomorrow to see whether he gets to advance.
MOVING IN: Martin Kaymer, who is making his FedExCup Playoffs debut, projects to moveup 10 spots to No. 93. He likely can't afford another 75 like the one he shot Saturday that left him tied for 48th ... Camilo Villegas, who won the final two Playoffs events in 2008, is projected at No. 80, which is a jump of 30 spots. He opened with a 65 this week but has slipped back to 3 under with rounds of 73 and 72. ... Greg Chalmers rode his second ace of the season to a round of 66 on Saturday that moved him into a tie for 19th. He's looking to jump 43 spots in the FedExCup from No. 122 and will be looking to keep going in that direction. ... John Senden started the week ranked 105th and has projects to move up 11 spots after three straight rounds of 71. He doesn't have much breathing room for the final 18 holes. ... Aaron Baddeley matched his countryman Chalmers' round of 66 and is projected to have made the third largest jump to Kevin Chappell's 46 spots and Gary Woodland's 59.
MOVING OUT: Three of the five players who have moved out of the top 100 projections -- Ted Potter Jr., J.J. Henry and James Driscoll -- missed the cut. So they will have to wait and see how everything shakes out Sunday afternoon. ... Jeff Overton, who came in on the bubble, dropped two spots when he shot his second straight 74 on Saturday to finish 54 holes at 3 over. ... Geoff Ogilvy was one spot higher than Overton entering the Playoffs. But he's now projected at No. 107 after shooting 77 in the third round to drop back to 6 over.
ELIMINATED: The players who were eliminated when they missed the cut are James Hahn, who came in ranked No. 101, Mark Wilson (102), Charlie Beljan (104), Jason Bohn (106), Jeff Maggert (108), Morgan Hoffman (111), Chez Reavie (112), D.H. Lee (114), Andres Romero (115), Johnson Wagner (116), Charlie Wi (118) and Steven Bowditch (120). Ben Crane, who came to Liberty National ranked No. 125; Lucas Glover (107) and Justin Hicks (109) withdrew on Friday and also will not advance.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- The Monday after he finished second at last year's PGA Championship, David Lynn hitched a ride from South Carolina to New York on Padraig Harrington's plane.
His flight home to England wasn't until that night so he and his girlfriend hired a limo and took a whistle-stop tour of the city. The couple went to Ground Zero. They checked out the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty. There was even a little time for shopping.
"I was pretty tired to be honest after a few hours," Lynn said. "I had not had an awful lot of sleep that night. ... We went for a nice lunch and it was all just a mad dash around, and I think I had to be at the airport for 5 o'clock."
Just over a year later, Lynn is back in the NYC area, only this time he is staying across the Hudson River in New Jersesy and playing in The Barclays. He hasn't had time for any sightseeing because he's making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs and Lynn wanted to be sure he was ready.
Judging by the first three rounds of The Barclays, Lynn certainly is. He shot a 69 on Saturday that placed him in a tie with Tiger Woods at 8 under, just four shots behind Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar.
"It's exciting," Lynn said. "There's four big events here which all come together to create the FedEx, and you can certainly tell there's a little bit of atmosphere about the fact that we have gone into the Playoffs. But like I said, I'm trying to sort of take small steps into insuring that I play in all four."
Lynn secured his 2013 TOUR card thanks to the money he earned at Kiawah Island that placed him inside the top 125 on the money list as a non-member. He's played well in his first year, too -- finishing runner-up to David Ernst in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship -- and he entered the Playoffs ranked 54th in the FedExCup.
Lynn played so well, in fact, that he did enough "damage" in those early events that he was able to head back to the familiar confines of Europe after THE PLAYERS Championship. He returned to the States "relaxed" as he'd hoped for the stretch run that started three weeks ago with the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
"For me, it's a case of trying to secure my way into the third event, which I'm not safe for," said Lynn, who ranks 10th in fairways, 24th in greens in regulation and 11th in putts this week. "And then well, you know, I could do that this week and secure myself into THE TOUR Championship.
"I guess it's one of those things that you're trying to just build your way up slowly is the way I'm sort of thinking about it, just try and progress, and I guess it's not until the last week that it comes, when the hype really picks up on the FedEx, is the way I'm thinking."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- As the day progressed, his back digressed. But Tiger Woods still has a chance to win The Barclays after gutting out a 69 in the third round at Liberty National.
And at least on Sunday, Woods will only have 18 holes to play after enduring a weather-delayed first round that dragged on for nearly 12 hours and a second round that carried over into Saturday morning. Now that 54 holes are finally in the books, he's 8 under and just four strokes off the lead held by Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
Woods said his problematic lower back felt fine when he returned to play his final five holes in the second round at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. He made four pars and one birdie on the homeward stretch, hitting every fairway and missing just one green.
But Woods, who had roughly three hours between the end of his second round and the start of his third, began to feel discomfort as the day dragged on. He got off to what he called a "sweet" start, "stuffing" his approach at the first hole to 18 inches, but gave that stroke -- and then some -- with three bogeys in his next six holes.
Even battling the back, though, Woods still managed to make four birdies in his final 11 holes to climb the leaderboard -- which had to be a positive given how he felt.
"It starts off great every day, and then it progressively deteriorates as the day goes on," Woods said. "Hopefully tomorrow it will be one of those days again and fight through it and see if I can win a tournament."
All in all, Woods was pleased by the way he hung in on Saturday. He hit all but two fairways and 13 of 18 greens. He said he figured out some shots that put the least stress on his back and relied on his putter.
"Unfortunately I had two three-putts, but other than that, I felt like I really putted well and made my share of putts," Woods said, adding that he thought a number in the mid-60s was out there, and indeed, Kevin Chappell, who is 11 under, fired a course-record 62.
"The greens are perfect," Woods said. "And with it being a little windy, but still, the fairways are fast and you can get the ball way down there; if you're feeling pretty good and pretty frisky, you can drive it all the way down there where you have a lot of wedges in there."
Woods says he thinks the back issues are isolated, the product of sleeping on a hotel mattress that is simply too soft, rather than related to a medical problem.
"I mean, ... once you start off with it and then you keep playing on it, practicing, warming up, I'm loading it pretty good," Woods said. "It's not like I go out there and puff it around. I kind of go at it a little bit."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Jordan Speith's debut at The Barclays didn't exactly get off to a great start when he double-bogeyed his first hole on Friday.
The 20-year-old phenom has put himself in position for a very good finish, though, with a second-straight round of 68 on Saturday that moved him to 7 under for the tournament and trailing the leaders by five.
Spieth won his first PGA TOUR event last month -- and nearly picked up his second title last Sunday at the Wyndham Championship before losing to Patrick Reed on the second hole of sudden death. He came into his first FedExCup Playoffs ranked eighth and likely has a path into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola regardless of how he plays in the first three events.
Spieth currently has 1,436 points and according to projections, players who get to 1,600 points are likely safe. So with points quintupled in the Playoffs, the talented Texan doesn't have far to go.
But Spieth's strategy is simple -- and doesn't require a calculator or a calculus degree.
"Just go out there and get on top of the leaderboard and try to make some birdies," he said.
For the last 45 holes, that's exactly what Spieth has done, too. He shot 3 over on his first nine but has made 13 birdies, one eagle and just five bogeys since to put himself in a tie for sixth.
Spieth has hit 31 of 42 fairways this week, as well as 36 of 54 greens in regulation. He only hit nine greens on Saturday but his putter kept him honest, as he used just 24 and had 11 one-putts, including a 20-footer to save par at the driveable 16 that was marred by what he called "three really bad decisions in a row."
"My putter felt really, really great in this round," Spieth said. "... I was thinking about my speed control, hitting very solid on these greens and I was able to control the pace."
Spieth, who grew up Dallas, said he hoped the wind that has dried out the slick greens would pick up on Sunday, but he doesn't really think that will happen.
"I'm going to have to play smart golf tomorrow, and obviously a round like I shot today is going to be a really good round," Spieth said. "I don't think it ends up winning tomorrow, but I think I go out with the goal to try to hit as many greens as possible and focus on my speed to try to post a few under and see what happens."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Phil Mickelson's mind is already on next week, specifically getting it in the right frame after what has been an up-and-down three days at Liberty National.
Mickelson shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday to move to 3 under with one round to play in The Barclays, where he's well off the lead entering the final round.
"I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of good swings," Mickelson said. "I was sloppy, though, and I didn't score well, and (Sunday) is going to be an important day for me, because I just want to put it together."
Mickelson has had a hard time doing that since winning The Open Championship last month.
He tied for 21st at Firestone, but broke par only once all week.
A week later at Oak Hill, he finished 12 over at tied for 72nd at the PGA Championship.
This week, he's had nearly as many bogeys (eight) as birdies (13). Saturday, he double bogeyed his second hole of the day, the par-3 11th after three-putting from 6 feet, and drove it in the water on the par-4 16th.
Instead of using Sunday's final round here to move into contention, he'll use it to gain momentum going into next week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, where he won in 2007 and finished fourth in 20012.
Mickelson has also won THE TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola before and knows he'll need a good result to increase his chances at his first FedExCup.
"I'm a fairly emotional golfer in that I put a lot into it, and when it's going great, I'm really on, and when it doesn't, it's hard for me to get it turned around," Mickelson said. "If I can get mentally sharp and play a good, solid round of scoring, because I'm hitting the shots now, I'm starting to control the ball again, and control my misses and play the way I was playing; and if I can put together a good, solid round, stay focused it should give me some momentum next week."