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The Tour Report

August 25 2012

7:39 PM

Garcia, Watney ready to battle again

Garcia discusses his third round

Following an third-round 69, Sergio Garcia reflects on his play in The Barclays with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Sergio Garcia needed two less strokes than playing partner Nick Watney in Saturday's third round of The Barclays. But that difference in score might not accurately reflect which player had the better day.

"I think Nick played amazing," Garcia said. "... Probably better than me. I thought I was just a little bit more fortunate."

Whether it was fortune or just solid play, Garcia is in control after 54 holes of the FedExCup Playoffs opener. After shooting a 2-under 69 on Saturday, he's 10 under for the tournament and will take a two-shot lead over Watney heading into Sunday's final round at the Bethpage State Park Black Course.

For Garcia, this week has been a showcase for his ball-striking skills, just like it was last week when he won the Wyndham Championship. Through the first three rounds at Bethpage Black, Garcia is tied for second in the field in fairways hit (78.6 percent) and tied for fourth in greens in regulation (75.9 percent).

And outside of his three-putt bogey early in Saturday's round, Garcia managed to navigate the dry, firm greens without significant harm. In fact, his putting has been a key part of his rise to the top of the leaderboard -- he ranks third in the field in strokes-gained putting.

"At the end of the day, all you can do is try to trust the line you pick, and the speed you think it's going to be," Garcia said when asked his patience on the greens. "And then just hope that you are guessing it right. 

"It is a little bit of a guessing game, you know, when the greens get like this."

Watney's only three-putt of the day came on the 18th hole. On the previous hole, the par-3 17th, he made the lone birdie of the day by any player in the field at that hole when he chipped in from the fringe. But he misjudge the slope of the 18th and was too aggressive with his birdie putt, running it 11 feet past the hole to finish with a bogey and an even-par 71.

It was a poor end to an otherwise solid putting day for Watney, who rolled in four putts from outside 15 feet.

Watney credited a Monday putting session (and a quick Saturday refresher) with Darrell Kestner, the Director of Golf at Deepdale Golf Club in nearby Manhassat, N.Y., for producing what he called his "best" putting week of the year.

"It's paid off huge," Watney said.

But he'll need to have that hot putter going in Sunday's final round ... and hope that Garcia doesn't run away from the field.

"I'm just going to, you know, just hang around," Watney said. "If Sergio goes out and shoots 4- or 5-under, you've just got to tip your hat. But I'm super-excited to be in the last group."

Garcia, meanwhile, would like nothing better than to capture his second straight tournament and move to the top of the FedExCup rankings.

"I just want to go out there and try to play the way I've been playing, try to believe in what I'm doing as much as I've been doing," Garcia said. "If I managed to win, that will be great. If I don't, it will still be great.

"I'll be giving it my best effort, so we'll see."

Sergio Garcia and Nick Watney are paired in the final group for Sunday’s final round of The Barclays. Their tee time is 1:40 p.m. ET.