As the final pairing makes the turn during their third round, American Nick Watney has taken sole possession of the lead on Saturday at The Barclays. Watney came out of the gate hot with the putter, picking up birdies on three of the first five holes to take a two-shot lead over playing partner Sergio Garcia. Watney did make his first bogey of the day on the sixth at Bethpage to fall back but he made the turn with a birdie on No. 9 to move back to 11-under.
The young star finished atop the regular season FedEx Cup standings last year but he's had a rough summer, tumbling from his perch as one of the best American golfers in the world to nearly off the radar for Ryder Cup contention. While it's unlikely that a red-hot playoffs surge would change Davis Love III's mind, a strong end to the season could get Watney back on track for next year.
Garcia has had a bit of an up-and-down outward nine, making three birdies and two bogeys. He posted a red number on the opening hole but dropped a shot at the par-3 third, making bogey for the third straight day there. As is always the case with Garcia, his success hinges upon his putting. He burned the edge at the third and nearly missed a birdie on the second with another putt . As he demonstrated at Sedgefield last week, he remains one of the best ball strikers in the game but he any consistency with putter should yield positive results. A win for Garcia would put him in good form heading into the Ryder Cup, where he typically plays the European pest against the USA.
A trio of potential Ryder Cup captain's choices are trying to make a run at Watney and Garcia. Brandt Snedeker and Rickie Fowler are generally thought to be battling for the 12th and final spot on the American team. Snedeker's putter would be a huge asset for the Americans, and he demonstrated that on Saturday when he made birdie on four of the first seven holes. He has since dropped a shot and is now 6-under. It's believed that Fowler is a likely choice for Love, but he needs to stay in form with plenty of suitable candidates still alive. He joins Snedeker on the first page of the leaderboard at 6-under. Finally, defending champion Dustin Johnson is also hanging around as the weekend progresses, holding steady at 5-under.
Tiger Woods, who's almost certainly still bothered by back problems, has stalled out at 5-under after an outward 36. Woods had a slow start but it looked like he might gather momentum with back-to-back birdies on seven and eight, but he picked up his third bogey of the day at No. 9. He's now six shots back heading into his final par-5 of the day. The more difficult back nine finish now awaits and it will be hard for the FedEx Cup points leader to put himself in contention unless the leaders come back to the field.
For live Barclays leaderboard, visit Golf.com.