Bryson DeChambeau rises to occasion with 63 to take Northern Trust lead

Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau rises to occasion with 63 to take Northern Trust lead

PGA Tour

Bryson DeChambeau rises to occasion with 63 to take Northern Trust lead

PARAMUS, N.J. – Rain early in the week made Ridgewood Country Club’s fairways and greens as soft as a pillow, so tee shots and approach shots stopped on a dime. Very slowly, they started to firm up on Saturday under a sun-filled sky, but the venerable A.W. Tillinghast course felt like an aviary during the third round of The Northern Trust. Birdies were everywhere, allowing players who started the day well behind the overnight leaders, Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark, to make massive moves up the leaderboard.

When the flurry of circle drawing ended, Bryson DeChambeau had nine on his card. The winner of the Memorial in June, and the player who finished ninth on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, shot 63 to take a four-shot lead over Keegan Bradley, who shot a tournament-low 62.

“I just felt like every time I was able to hit it in the fairway, I was attacking flags,” DeChambeau said. “My golf swing was feeling great and my putting, that’s been the key this week for me. I’ve been rolling my rock really, really well.”

DeChambeau missed the cut at the PGA Championship and wound up missing an automatic spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team by one position. It bothers him, clearly, but Jim Furyk, the U.S. team captain, would have a hard time not giving DeChambeau a captain’s pick if he holds onto his lead and wins on Sunday.

At the same time, DeChambeau is trying not to think about captain’s picks.

“Each week is unique and I’ve got to play my best each and every week, and if I play well in the FedExCup Playoffs, the rest will speak for itself,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”

Bradley, the winner of the 2011 PGA Championship and whose last victory came at the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, put on a ballstriking clinic on Saturday.

“I hit 18 greens,” he said, beaming with pride after signing his scorecard. “I think that this course is a tough course. I mean, the rough is deep. So the way I played today was pretty solid. My iron play, especially, is as good as I can hit it.”

Bradley started The Northern Trust at No. 49 on the FedEx Cup points list, so he was already planning to play next week’s Dell Technologies Championship and the BMW Championship. He is projected to move up to sixth if he can maintain his position on the leaderboard. All the players who finish in the top 30 after the BMW Championship qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

But as lots of players binged on birdies like little kids stuffing their faces with M&Ms on Halloween night, many of the biggest names were backing up. The scoring average on the day on the par-71 course was 69.825, but Lovemark shot a 73 and Koepka scored 72. Adam Scott made three bogeys and a double-bogey in his first 11 holes, but salvaged his round by making three birdies over his last four. His 1 under round moved him to 10 under for the tournament and tied for fifth. Tommy Fleetwood shot a 2-over 73, and even Dustin Johnson, the world’s top-ranked player, shot 1-over 72.

Australia’s Cameron Smith, who is not a household name like those players, shot 65 to move into a tie for third with Tony Finau (66).

“It was just a bit warmer today, so the ball was probably traveling a little bit further,” Smith said. “The ball is obviously rolling a little bit out on the fairway, so we just had shorter clubs into the greens. I mean, the greens were firming up a little bit at the end there but nothing too much. Still allowed us to be aggressive. That’s why I think there’s a few guys that went low out there today.”

Billy Horschel, the winner of the 2014 FedEx Cup, caught sight of the leaderboard early his round and knew that he had to keep up. He did, carding a 65 that left him tied for fifth.

“Around six or seven I sort of looked to see what was going on up there, and I saw hot rounds for today,” he said. “I saw there were quite a few low rounds and I saw a few guys had moved up above me, so I knew I needed to get after it, but I knew that on the front side, if you try to be too aggressive, you can put yourself behind the 8-ball. So if I just stayed patient, I knew the back side lent itself to some more birdies, and I did a really good job of that.”

Seven players ended the day at 9 under, including Jordan Spieth (64), Phil Mickelson (68), Beau Hossler (66) and Koepka.

Tiger Woods shot 68 and a 3 under for the tournament, tied for 49th.

The table below lists The Bubble, players who started this week ranked No. 90 through No. 110 on the FedEx Cup point list. It also shows those players’ results through 36 holes at the Northern Trust and their projected positions. At the end of play on Sunday, the top 100 players on the FedEx Cup point list advance to the next round of the playoffs, the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home