A good start and a great finish was enough for Sergio Garcia to take the lead Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass.
For Phil Mickelson, just finishing in the same spot he started was a victory.
On another day of soft conditions and plenty of birdies on the TPC Boston, Garcia opened with five birdies in seven holes, and then made an 18-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole for a 7-under 64 and a 1-shot lead over Roberto Castro and Henrik Stenson, the Swede who is popping up on every leaderboard.
Garcia was at 13-under 129, and it held up as the lead when no one could catch him on a cloudy afternoon with some light rain.
Tiger Woods, in the 1-2-3 grouping with Mickelson and Adam Scott, made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 67 and is 6 shots back.
Mickelson, however, managed to steal the show with a 71.
Lefty went on the wildest ride at the TPC Boston, completely losing his swing during one stretch when he at times appeared closer to hitting Rhode Island than hitting a fairway. He went into the hazard to the left of the ninth fairway and into another one right of the 10th fairway. Only a tree kept his tee shot on the par-3 11th hole from disappearing into the woods.
He hit into the gallery to the left and into the gallery on the right on consecutive holes.
He found the water on the par-3 16th.
And he still managed an even-par 71 by closing with back-to-back birdies, leaving him 5 shots behind and in a great frame of mind for the final 36 holes.
“I was playing terrible and I shot even par,” Mickelson said. “I fought hard. Throughout the course of my career, it happens where you kind of lose it for a little bit. I fought hard in the interim and was able to find it there in the end, giving me confidence heading into the weekend. But more than that, it kept me within striking distance.
“I could have easily shot myself out of the tournament, knocking them in the hazard I don’t know how many times,” he said. “If I go on and play the way I believe I am going to this weekend, I am going to look back on those nine holes as the key to the entire tournament.”
Stenson often refers to tournaments as three-and-a-half days of a marathon just to get to the back nine for a chance to win. If that’s the case, this is starting to feel like a marathon with a 4-minute mile pace.
The cut was at 1-under 141, ending the season for some players who have no chance of being in the top 70 in the FedEx Cup to advance to the third playoff event. Woods was among 29 players still within 6 shots of the lead at the halfway point.
Woods didn’t feel as though he got much out of his round, and a radio reporter suggested he might be capable of something better than 65 if he puts it all together.
“There’s going to have to be to get back into this thing,” Woods said. “There’s so many guys up there that are 9-under par or better. There’s a ton of guys up there. It’s going to take a couple of low rounds.”
Stenson had eight birdies and a clean card in his round of 63. Castrol was 7 under for his round at the turn and had to settle for a 65 after a rough patch in the middle of his back nine. Matt Kuchar and PGA champion Jason Dufner each had 66 and were 3 shots behind. Justin Rose had a 63 and was another shot back, along with Jordan Spieth, who had a 66.
Yani Tseng moved into position to end a long victory drought, shooting a 9-under 63 to take a 3-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, the 2011 tournament winner at Pumpkin Ridge, was tied for second with Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum. Pettersen had a 70, and Phatlum, the leader after each of the first two rounds, shot 71.
Rocco Mediate played the back nine in 7-under 29 for the second day in a row to increase his lead to 2 strokes in the Champions Tour’s inaugural Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary, Alberta. The 50-year-old Mediate followed his opening 8-under 63 with a 64 to reach 15 under at tree-lined Canyon Meadows. Bobby Clampett was second after a 65.
Peter Uihlein shot a 4-under 67, giving the American a 3-shot lead after three rounds at the Wales Open in Newport, Wales. Uihlein had an eagle at the par-5 ninth to go with five birdies in an inconsistent round that included three bogeys.