CARMEL, Ind. – These might be the FedEx Cup playoffs, but the BMW Championship feels like an All-Star Game.
If you don’t like this leaderboard, you don’t like golf.
All that will be missing from Sunday’s star-studded lineup is Ryan Seacrest and a red carpet to the first tee.
There’s something for just about everyone going into the final round at Crooked Stick.
A pair of Hall of Famers lead: Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.
Half of the top eight on the leaderboard have reigned as No. 1 in the world rankings.
Current world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is one of those guys, tied for third with former No. 1 Lee Westwood.
Count Tiger Woods and Singh as the other former No. 1s in this mix.
Four players among the top eight are multiple major championship winners, accounting for 23 majors.
“The crowd is pretty rowdy, and it’s an incredible leaderboard,” said Adam Scott, who’s yet another compelling storyline as he seeks to win two months after his British Open heartache. “This is going to be fun. I’m glad I put myself in this position.”
Scott is tied for fifth just two shots back.
There’s a lot at stake Sunday with players vying to make it to the Tour Championship to give themselves a shot at the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of play Sunday advance to the playoff finale at East Lake in Atlanta. The top five will go there as the only players guaranteed that if they win the Tour Championship they’ll also win the $10 million jackpot.
The Sunday pairings at Crooked Stick are loaded with intrigue.
Going off last together are Singh and Mickelson, who have had some epic showdowns in the past, not all of them on the golf course.
There’s Woods paired with another twentysomething dynamo, Dustin Johnson. After trading terrific golf blows with McIlroy in the first two rounds, Woods will go toe to toe with yet another fearless young foe. Johnson, 28, is the first player since Woods to have won in each of his first five seasons on the PGA Tour.
Johnson is two off the lead, Woods three behind.
There’s a Westwood and McIlroy pairing, two of Europe’s titans.
“It’s going to be a shootout tomorrow,” Mickelson said. “I just like the fact that I’m in the mix.”
Mickelson was a human fireworks show Saturday. He gained himself a share of the lead with an 8-under-par 64. He made 10 birdies and sits at 16-under 200 with Singh.
With almost 3 inches of rain overnight, preferred lines were played for a third consecutive day. The course remained soft and receptive and vulnerable to an all-out assault.
“I know that tournament organizers probably wanted a firmer, faster golf course this week,” Mickelson said. “It would have made scores not as low, but this has been a lot of fun for the players, and I think fun for the fans to watch.
“It’s a very challenging, demanding golf course, but with the soft conditions it gives the best players in the world the ability to show their skills.”
After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am as part of a strong start to his season, Mickelson has been off his top form. That’s changing as he heats back up in these playoffs. He tied for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship last week, his first top 10 since May. His scoring spree has come, not coincidentally, since switching to a new claw putting grip.
Mickelson has now posted seven consecutive rounds in the 60s in these playoffs.
“It’s taken me a little while to piece it back together, but I could tell last week that my game was back, and I was ready to play at the highest level again,” Mickelson said.
Singh is trying to become the oldest winner of the BMW Championship at 49 years, 6 months and 18 days old. He’s trying to become the seventh-oldest winner of any PGA Tour event. He’s also trying to get to East Lake. He’s 49th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a top-four finish Sunday to advance to the playoff finale.
“I’m not really worried about that,” said Singh, who has a share of the lead despite bogeys at two of the last three holes Saturday. “I’m worried about trying to go out there and finish this tournament.”
It’s looking like that might be a wild finish with so many stars at their best.
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