NORTON, Mass. – Masters champion Charl Schwartzel turned anger into a string of birdies for a 5-under 66 on Saturday that put him in a three-way tie for the lead with Adam Scott and Bubba Watson in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Watson, who finally put some attention back on his golf, played in the morning and produced what he called a “boring” round of 64 that included an eagle on the seventh hole for the second straight day. Scott, who won on the TPC Boston eight years, shot 63 in the afternoon.
Schwartzel would not have imagined another 66 on his card when he made the turn. He was in perfect position off the tee on the par-5 18th until he pulled his approach, and then compounded the error with a three-putt for a soft bogey. Still stewing when he got to the first tee, he left the 5-wood in his bag and hit driver.
“I was, to say the least, fairly upset,” Schwartzel said. “It’s sometimes very crucial to come back straightaway, otherwise your round can get away from you. The birdie on the first just got me going in the right mindset again.”
The drive set up a flip wedge to 6 week. Another massive drive left him only a 7-iron on the par-5 second, and he was on his way. Schwartzel ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch and was tied for the lead at the halfway point.
The morning was filled with big cheers, mostly around one hole.
It proved to be a bigger boost for Snedeker, the start of a bizarre 1-5-3 on his card—the ace, followed by a sloppy bogey that got his attention, and an eagle putt on the 18th as he went on to a 64 and was one shot behind. Nick Watney, a two-time winner on tour this year, had another 67 and was two shots behind.
The leaders were at 10-under 132 as they work their way to a Labor Day finish.
“I’m happy to put myself in the hunt because I need a good week to move up in this FedEx Cup,” said Scott, who is at No. 23 in the standings. “I’m running out of time quick.”
The top 70 on the FedEx Cup list after this week advance to the third playoff event outside Chicago in two weeks, with the top 30 from there going to Atlanta for a shot at the $10 million prize.
Typical for these FedEx Cup playoffs, there were other scores that were significant.
Ernie Els was among the last to qualify for the playoffs, though he still faced long odds. He barely advanced out of the first round and then shot a 65 on Saturday to move into a tie for sixth with a group that included Rickie Fowler.
“I’ve been working quite hard to get some kind of game going, and it seems like I’ve got it going a bit now,” Els said. “The putter is starting to cooper a little bit better.”
Els currently is using a belly putter. Phil Mickelson tried the belly putter for the second straight day, although it was more his long game that led to a 73. He was 11 shots behind and made the cut on the number - 1-over 143 - at the tournament he won four years ago.
William McGirt, the 125th and last man into these playoffs, kept his hopes alive with a second straight 69 that at least gave him a reasonable chance of moving on to Chicago.
Watson hasn’t missed many cuts this year. He really hasn’t done much of anything aside from his two wins in San Diego and New Orleans. He attributed it to getting accustomed to a little more celebrity.
“You win three times in less than a year, all the people are writing about you in the paper, you’ve got more fans, you’ve got a lot more friends, you’ve got a lot more family, you’ve got a lot more of everything,” he said. “For me, for getting a simple guy like myself, it’s not what I dream to do.”
He said he feared he might be sick because his energy was drained, then later realized that being in the spotlight required more energy. Watson also learned about the attention from his growing star power in France, when he joked about not knowing the names of some of the most famous landmarks and was criticized in Europe and at home.
Self-deprecating as ever, Watson had no problem making fun of himself or the situation in France. When asked about the landmarks in New England, he said, “There’s a fence or something, isn’t there? A green one?”
He was only joking about Fenway’s “Green Monster.”
“I love the Yankees, sorry,” he said. “They’re all going to hate me, anyways.”
The FedEx Cup playoffs ended for Ian Poulter, Anthony Kim and Stewart Cink, among others. They missed the cut and already were outside the top 70 on the list of players who are trying to advance to Chicago.