Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland began their week at The Barclays by going to Citi Field and getting a tour of the clubhouse, where Kuchar noticed an indoor batting cage and asked if they could try it out. He stood behind the net and threw to Woodland, a promising baseball player in high school.
“Gary hit and was really impressive,” Kuchar said. “I didn’t hit and didn’t show anything differently, but Gary was impressive swinging a baseball bat.”
Woodland isn’t too bad with a golf club in his hands, either.
Playing with Kuchar in the final group, Woodland ran off four consecutive birdies Saturday afternoon with another powerful display of his athleticism and shot a 3-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Kuchar going into the final round at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
“Man, that guy can play some golf,” Kuchar said, knowing that Woodland was within earshot.
Kuchar, who played bogey-free on the back nine in blustery conditions for a 70, remains more polished. He already has two wins this year, at the Match Play Championship and Memorial, and he is a past champion at The Barclays.
For much of the day they were trading birdies — along with a few bad breaks — and wound up tied at 12-under 201.
Kuchar’s from off the green on the reachable par-4 16th was stopped by a sprinkler, while Woodland putted his to close range for birdie. Woodland gave back the stroke on the next hole with a drive that plugged into the far end of the bunker, forcing him to blast it out sideways and costing him a bogey.
They are close friends and former World Cup partners.
But the final round at Liberty National doesn’t belong to only them. Kevin Chappell broke the tournament course record with a 62 — 10 shots better than the average score on Saturday — and was a shot behind.
“In the wind, if you would have told me someone was going to shoot 62 today, I would probably have laughed at you,” Chappell said.
And very much in the mix was Tiger Woods, bad back and all. Woods was just hanging around for so much of the day, gingerly bending over to put his ball on a tee and retrieve it out of the cup. His fortunes turned with 2 strong shots on the par-5 13th led to birdie, he drove the 16th green for another birdie and finished with a 10-foot birdie putt and a 69. Woods was 4 shots behind, along with David Lynn, who also had a 69.
“It starts off great every day, and then it progressively deteriorates as the day goes on,” Woods said of his lower back, which he hurt from what he said was a soft bed in his hotel room. “Hopefully, [today] it will be one of those days again. Fight through it and see if I can win a tournament.”
The large group at 7-under 206 included 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
Chappell’s round was evidence that even in windy conditions, low scores are available. For the former UCLA Bruin, it was really was simple as making putts, most of them in that 10-foot to 15-foot range. There were a few par saves on the back nine, and six birdies on the front.
Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall shot a 6-under 64 in the Canadian Women’s Open to take a 1-stroke lead over European teammate Suzann Pettersen and defending champion Lydia Ko in Edmonton, Alberta.
Hedwall, winless on the LPGA Tour, was a record 5-0 last week in Colorado in Europe’s blowout victory over the United States. The Swede had a 10-under 200 total at Royal Mayfair.
Pettersen shot a 65, and the 16-year-old Ko had a 67. Last year in British Columbia, the New Zealand amateur became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at 15 years, 4 months.
Hedwall had seven birdies and a bogey in the third round after opening with consecutive 68s.
Brittany Lincicome and I.K. Kim were 2 strokes back at 8 under. Kim had a 65, and Lincicome, the 2011 winner at Hillsdale in Quebec, shot 66.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, tied for the second-round lead with Cristie Kerr, had a 74 to fall 6 strokes back at 4 under. Park swept the first three majors of the season and had six tour victories this year.
John Riegger shot an 8-under 64 to open a 3-stroke lead after the second round of the Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash.
The 50-year-old Riegger, making his fifth career start on the 50-and-over tour, had an eagle for the second consecutive day and added seven birdies and a bogey to finish at 11 under.
Tom Lehman, Bernhard Langer, Kirk Triplett and Bobby Clampett were tied for second. Lehman had a 67, Langer and Triplett shot 68, and Clampett had a 69.
Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez and England’s Tommy Fleetwood shared the lead at 16-under after the third round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Gleneagles, Scotland. The 352nd-ranked Gonzalez had four birdies and finished with a 2-under 70 on Saturday. Fleetwood started birdie-eagle but also bogeyed the last for a 67.
Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson-Hed also began birdie-eagle and finished with a 66 to trail by a stroke.