CARMEL, Ind. – 2000 called. It wants its leaderboard back.
Five of the top eight names on the board after the third round of the BMW Championship are ones you’d expect to see on top at the Masters 12 years ago. But it’s not the Masters, it’s the third leg of the 2012 FedEx Cup playoffs that have the gallery here at Crooked Stick on the cusp on one of the best finishes of the year.
Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are tied at the top at 16 under par. Singh bogeyed three of the last five holes and shot 69. Mickelson made 10 birdies and two bogeys to shoot 64, which was the lowest round of the day by two shots.
“It was a fun day,” Mickelson said. “I got it going with the putter. I hit a lot of good shots.
“Yesterday when the ball was getting to the lip and turning away, today they seemed to fall in.”
Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy are tied for third a shot behind at 15 under. Tiger Woods struggled early but managed to shoot 71. He’s in eighth place at 13 under.
“I grinded hard,” Woods said. “I didn’t have much, and on top of that I made two really bad bogeys on 7 and 8 from the middle of the fairway. But at least I fought back where I have a chance going into tomorrow.”
Woods began the day a shot out of the lead and made four bogeys in a six-hole stretch early in the round. But a chip-in birdie on the par-5 ninth hole seemed to give him more of a pep in his step. He then made birdie on three of the first four holes on the back nine to get under par on the day before closing with five consecutive pars.
There were not many pars on Mickelson’s scorecard. For a guy who seemingly has been in a little bit of a funk lately with his game, he found something Saturday at the BMW. Mickelson made bogey on the third hole, then rattled off birdies on six of his next eight holes.
“Certainly my game went south for a while and I was trying to piece it back together,” Mickelson said. “I know heading into this week I was going to have a good week.”
Singh, 49, was on cruise control through 13 holes but then hit an odd patch down the stretch to close bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey.
“I’ve got a good chance tomorrow to do it,” Singh said. “Today’s round could have got away from me, but I really dug deep and really focused hard on that.”
Singh and Mickelson will be paired together in Sunday’s final group while Westwood and McIlroy will be together in the penultimate pairing.
McIlroy was hovering around even par for most of the day and didn’t seem to have much of a spark. But he made birdie on two of the last four holes to get within a shot of Singh and Mickelson. McIlroy is looking for back-to-back victories and his third in the last month.
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