The battle for the Tour Championship and FedExCup honors remained intriguingly wide open after Aaron Baddeley and Hunter Mahan charged into a tie for the lead in Saturday’s third round at the East Lake Golf Club.
Australian Baddeley fired a best of the day, six-under-par 64 to enhance his claims for a Presidents Cup wild card pick next week, while American Mahan carded a 66, the pair finishing level at nine-under 201.
Australian Jason Day, bidding for his first PGA Tour victory this year, birdied two of the last five holes for a 69 to share third place at seven-under with South Korea’s K.J. Choi (70).
Mahan joined Baddeley at the top of the leaderboard after rolling in a 22-foot birdie putt at the tricky par-three last, pumping his right fist in celebration.
Twice during Saturday’s third round, four players were tied for the lead before Baddeley and Mahan broke free from the log-jam over the closing stretch.
Australian world No. 10 Adam Scott, who had been one stroke ahead of the chasing pack overnight, faded after the turn on the way to a 74 and a tie for ninth at four-under.
Every player in the elite field of 30 began the week with a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup, along with its US$10 million bonus.
Of those, British world No. 1 Luke Donald was best placed after the third round.
The ultra-consistent Englishman, fourth in the FedExCup standings coming into this week, returned a 70 on Saturday to share fifth place at six-under with American Bill Haas (69).
For Baddeley, FedExCup glory remains a distant prospect as he has to win the Tour Championship and hope that players ranked higher in the points standings finish poorly.
The Australian was 27th at the start of the week, while any of the top five — Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Donald and Matt Kuchar — would automatically secure the trophy with a victory today.
“I’m just going to try and win the golf tournament tomorrow,” Baddeley said.
Baddeley is among a handful of contenders for the final two spots on Norman’s International 12-man team for the ninth Presidents Cup against the US from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20.
He is vying with compatriots Robert Allenby and John Senden, Fiji’s Vijay Singh and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Rory Sabbatini for Norman’s two wild-card picks, to be announced tomorrow.
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