By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Kevin Stadler felt like the first few holes on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park were scoreable but he hadn't been able to take advantage. Until Saturday, that is.
Stadler reeled off four birdies in his first five holes, and five in his first seven, on the way to a bogey-free 65 that lifted him well up the leaderbaord during the third round of The Barclays. He was tied for third when he finished as the leaders got their rounds under way in earnest.
The stats bore Stadler out, too. The first hole ranks 15th, the second 13th and the fourth 17th in terms of difficulty. The par-5 seventh is the easiest and offers another golden opportunity.
Stadler had played the first seven holes in 1 under during the first two rounds. On Saturday, though, he started off by rolling in a 19-footer for birdie at No. 1, then made three more starting at the third hole on putts of 9, 5 and 3 feet. The seventh was generous, as well, when Stadler two-putted from 23 feet.
"It was good," Stadler said. "I've been playing the first couple of holes poorly, feel like you should be able to get a couple of them. Nice putt on 1, got off to a good start and birdied 3,4,5. Ideal start to say the least."
Stadler's final birdie came at the 14th hole, a 143-yard par 3 where he held a 9-iron up against the wind and converted the 3-footer to move to 7 under for the tournament.
Stadler has made the FedExCup Playoffs five times in six years. He's never gotten past the Deutsche Bank Championship, though -- missing the cut at TPC Boston both times he's played there.
The USC grad came to The Barclays ranked 70th, which is the cutoff for eligibility for the third Playoffs event, the BMW Championship. Stadler may have given himself considerable breathing room, though -- he was projected 19th in the standings when he finished his third round.
"I don't know how many times I've played up there, a few times,
and honestly I've played pretty poorly every year in the Playoffs,"
Stadler said. "I've been just a little fatigued by this time of the
year. I tried to play a few less tournaments at the start of the
year, and hopefully have a little game left. Looking forward
to next week and if I can get beyond that.
"My results this summer have been pretty poor but I've been striking the ball really well. Just kind of waiting for the putter to come around. I hit it pretty good today; the first two days was the worst I hit it all summer and the putter kept me in. It was nice to match them both up today."