Moore, almost mistake-free, takes one-shot lead at BMW Championship

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Ryan Moore's third-round 66 gives him a narrow lead over Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Charlie Wi.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series:

Ryan Moore has never had a better chance to accomplish so much.

With a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead in the BMW Championship, he is in great shape to reach the Tour Championship for the first time. That would mean a shot at the $10 million FedExCup bonus, and exemptions to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.

All he cares about is the trophy being handed out Sunday.

"Just like any golf tournament, I came here to win," Moore said. "That's what I'm here for. I'm not here to try and qualify for the Tour Championship. I'm here to win the Western Open [the name of the event played previously at Cog Hill]. All that other stuff takes care of itself. If you play good, you get in those things. I'm going to just focus on trying to stay patient, exactly how I have the last few days. Play hard and see what happens."

Moore was at 8-under 205 and had a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson (68), Charlie Wi (70) and FedExCup leader Matt Kuchar (70).

The main attraction Sunday figures to be well down the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods had a 68, his first time under par at Cog Hill this week but not enough to help his cause of advancing in the FedExCup playoffs. He was eight shots back and will be paired for the first time this year with Phil Mickelson, who had a 70.

It will be the first time they have played together since the final round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November, Woods' second-to-last tournament before his personal life became unraveled.

Sunday will be their 26th time playing together. Woods is slightly ahead -- 11-10-4 -- in posting the lower score.

That could only add to Woods' unlikely bid to get to the Tour Championship. He is seven shots behind where he likely needs to finish to get into the top 30 in the FedExCup standings. Woods has never been kept out of a tournament because he was ineligible.

"I just play," Woods said. "That's all I can do. I'm trying to win this golf tournament, and right now I'm eight back."

For Johnson, it will be the second time he has been in the final group during the FedExCup playoffs, and it's becoming more familiar. He was three shots back going into the last round at The Barclays, where he faded with a 72.

Johnson did not look like he would have this chance when he made two bogeys early in his round to fall five shots behind. But starting with No. 7, he ran off five straight birdies, including a wedge on the 10th that he nearly holed.

"Any time you get on a run like that, especially on this course, it changes your momentum," Johnson said.

Kuchar hasn't been nearly as sharp as he was in the opening round when he shot 64, but he's starting to feel better and is hopeful of hitting his stride Sunday. He wound up with a 70 and was just one shot behind. He was five back going into the last round at The Barclays, which he won in a playoff.

"If I can get going and have a day like today and make a few putts, I'll find myself up there with a chance to win tomorrow," he said.

Moore figured this would be his last tournament for a while.

He was No. 58 in the FedExCup standings, and needed one of his best weeks just to crack the top 30 and advance to the Tour Championship in two weeks at East Lake. A victory not only would send him to Atlanta, but give him a clear shot at the $10 million bonus.

Even with 18 holes to go, that's a long way off.

Ian Poulter and Paul Casey each shot a 69 and were two shots behind. Ernie Els, who started these playoffs as the No. 1 seed, had a 67 and was another shot behind. Still in the mix is Steve Stricker, who had a 67 and is five shots behind. A victory might be enough to send Stricker to No. 1 in the world.

Woods didn't get much going until the end of his round, trading birdies on the par 5s with a few bogeys when he missed the green and wound up in a tough spot in the bunkers. That started to change with a pair of 15-foot birdie putts on the fourth and fifth holes, a solid par save from the edge of a bunker and a birdie on the par-5 ninth.

He at least was back to even par for the tournament, a year after he won at 19 under par.

"I've been building all week," Woods said. "Each week, it's getting better."

Dressed again in a tie hung loosely around his golf shirt, Moore opened with birdies of 8 feet on the first hole and 4 feet on the fourth. The key might have been No. 7, where he took a double bogey on Friday by trying to use putter from against the collar and blowing it some 8 feet by the hole.

"I ended up in the same type of position today -- in the fringe, right around the edge of the rough," Moore said. "And I was like, 'All right, I'm going to belly-wedge it today.' And I knocked it right in. I learned my lesson."

The final round could be nail-biting away from the lead. The top 30 in the standings advance to the Tour Championship, and several players are right on the line. That includes Kevin Na, who was at 5-under 208, and Kevin Streelman, who had a 72 and was well back at 5-over 218. A good round could make a bad week feel better.