Watson leads Deutsche Bank with 2 dozen chasing
NORTON, Mass. (AP) — The possibilities are almost too many to count for the Labor Day finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
It starts with Bubba Watson.
Watson rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole — one of the few things that went right for him toward the end of the third round Sunday — for a 1-under 70 that gave him the outright lead on the TPC Boston.
Five players were one shot behind, a list that includes Adam Scott and Jason Day. Another five players were two shots behind, that group featuring Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, world No. 1 Luke Donald and defending FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk.
Seven more players, including Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney, were another shot back.
"It's setting up for a great tournament, great finish, which is good," Day said after birdieing his last two holes for a 67. "The names are up there, and I think that's good for the game of golf right now, and it's good for the FedEx Cup playoffs. No one knows what's going to happen tomorrow."
Phil Mickelson somehow got into the mix, too. He shot a 63 and was finished before lunch, and while he didn't expect to stay anywhere near the lead, he didn't anticipate the course firming up. Of the last three groups to tee off, no one broke 70.
Brendan Steele, who made a pair of eagles for a 67 and was one shot behind, summed it up as well as anyone.
"It's not even that there's so many guys," Steele said. "It's who the guys are, too. There's a lot of talent there. Somebody is going to have to definitely go and take this tournament. It's not going to be given to them."
Perhaps the best approach is to ignore the two dozen players separated by four shots and just go play.
Few others this year are better suited for that mentality than Chez Reavie.
Watson was at 11-under 202, and Reavie was in that group one shot behind. Considering where he started this year, it's amazing that he's part of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Already playing without much of an ACL, he tore the meniscus in his right knee at the start of last year and didn't realize it until June, when he had season-ending surgery. Reavie started this year under a major medical exemption, in which he had a dozen tournaments to make about $673,000 and keep his card.
"It seems like every couple of weeks, I had some sort of deadline," Reavie said. "I had two weeks to make this, I had two more weeks to do this, and then I had a week to make a certain number to get into Memorial. It's been a long year."
He didn't reach his money mark, but the $457,000 he earned carried into the second half of the year, when he was able to get into enough tournaments to earn over $1 million and assure his card for next year.
He also did well enough to get into the playoffs, although he is No. 87 at the second playoff event and needs to be among the top 70 to reach Chicago for the third event. But this is where it gets peculiar.
Reavie is in good shape to compete in his third straight $8 million event against the best on tour this year. But when the playoffs are over, he is not eligible for the Fall Series (except for Las Vegas, where he already earned his way in).
"It's been a strange year," Reavie said.
That's what makes him equipped for the final round, not only with a jam-packed leaderboard, but keeping track of the points needed to get to Chicago, and perhaps secure a spot in the Tour Championship.
"I'm going to play tomorrow the way I've played all year. I'm just going to go play," Reavie said. "At the beginning of the year when I had the 12 events and I had to make a certain amount, I was thinking a lot about how much money I had made and how much money I needed, and then it just ... it wasn't working. I wasn't playing well. I was stressed out.
"So it got me into this state of mind to just go play golf, and I'll finish where I finish."
Here's how the Deutsche Bank got to its final day.
Watson was sailing along with great chip shots for par and birdie, and a birdie on the 10th hole to reach 13 under and build a two-shot cushion. Then he felt the wind, could not get committed over various shots and made three bogeys over his next five holes. At one point, he was part of a six-way tie for the lead until his birdie on the 17th.
Scott had an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole, reachable off the tee, but was up-and-down the rest of the way for a 70. The others at 10-under 203 rallied late. Donald has been hanging around, as he often does, while Watney started birdie-eagle to take the lead only to lose his way on the back nine, as did Watson.
Two dozen players separated by four shots with 18 holes to go?
"Anybody has a chance," Watson said.
Among those who need a strong finish Monday to advance to the next playoff event are Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els, with the latter two right on the bubble.