By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
EDISON, N.J. -- He certainly didn't want to, not with the kind of roll he was on. But William McGirt had to leave that 12-footer for birdie on the par-5 12th hole until Friday morning.
The PGA TOUR rookie had just made birdies on seven of his last eight holes. But darkness was settling over Plainfield Country Club and McGirt didn't want to take the chance of missing that putt.
"I wanted to hit it so bad, but just looking at it there was enough of a shadow on the green that I couldn't really read it," McGirt said. "My eyes were seeing one thing and my feet were feeling something else. So I put a mark on it."
If McGirt makes that putt, he'll own sole possession of the lead at The Barclays, a tournament he wasn't sure he was going to get to play in until Sunday afternoon when he climbed two spots to No. 125 in the final regular season FedExCup standings. He left the course on Thursday tied for the lead with Harrison Frazar, who had finished off his 64, and Matt Kuchar, who had two holes remaining.
McGirt, though, will have six more holes to play after he putts out on the 12th. Interestingly, his PGA TOUR career low came last Friday on another Donald Ross course at Sedgefield Country Club where he shot 64 and went on to tie for 52nd at the Wyndham Championship. McGirt, who had some anxious moments on Sunday, eventually edged Justin Leonard by six points for the final playoff spot.
"All in all, everything is going pretty well," McGirt said of his performance Thursday. "I was driving it pretty well, hit my irons pretty well and making some putts. So pretty good combo. Hopefully, I can finish it off in the morning and get another good one in the afternoon."
McGirt holed a 13-footer to save par from the greenside bunker at No. 3, and he said that "jump-started everything" on Thursday. He made a 21-footer for his first birdie at the fourth hole and got up-and-down from the back fringe at the par-5 5th before deadly approaches at Nos. 6 and 7 left him putts of 4 feet and 13 inches.
McGirt got on another run at the ninth hole where he made an 11-footer for birdie. He followed with putts of 4 and 31 feet on the next two holes to move to 7 under before three quality shots set up the 12-footer he'll face at 7:15 a.m. on Friday.
"It's been so long since I've been on a streak like that, I wish I could do it more," McGirt said. "It seemed like today I had a lot of good numbers for shots. Just like last Friday, last Friday it seemed like every shot we walked off was a perfect number.
"Then on Saturday, I don't think I had a good number all day. Everything was dead in-between clubs. You're just trying to rip one or feather on in there. So it's kind of easy to get it going when you're hitting stock shots all day. So hopefully I can continue that tomorrow."