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Watney playing well as Furyk leads BMW

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From page B3 | September 15, 2013 |

US Open Golf

DHS graduate Nick Watney — shown here taking a swing at the U.S. Open— was tied for eighth after Saturday's third round of the BMW Championship. AP photo

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Jim Furyk was 10 shots worse and right where he wanted to be Saturday in the BMW Championship.

One day after Furyk had a 12-under 59 to become the sixth player in PGA Tour history to shoot golf’s magic number, he did enough right on the back nine at Conway Farms for a 69 and a one-shot lead over Steve Stricker heading into Sunday’s final round.

Furyk was at 13-under 200.

The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup rankings after the BMW Championship advance to the Tour Championship next week and a shot at the $10 million prize.

Davis High graduate Nick Watney could be on pace to make that elite field as he was just six shots back of Furyk and tied for eighth place at 7-under. The former Blue Devil came into the tournament at 34th in the FedEx standings and needs to finish among the leaders to reach the top 30.

After shooting a 4-under 67 on Thursday and a 69 in Round 2, Watney carded a 70 on Saturday in an up-and-down performance. He double-bogeyed No. 9 and had three other bogeys, but six birdies balanced out his round.

There were low scores available Saturday, as Matt Kuchar showed with a 61 that he finished before the leaders even arrived at the course. And there was plenty of excitement. Hunter Mahan had a hole-in-one on the 17th to win a BMW i3 electric car. There were some bizarre moments, too, such as when Justin Rose was penalized by taking a practice swing behind his ball, only for a divot to hit the golf ball and move it.

There also was a fan in the bleachers behind the 18th who was betting on players and being vocal about it, leading to an exchange with Zach Johnson and Watney.

Furyk wasn’t expecting another low round — no one ever shot better than 68 on the PGA Tour following a 59. And while the three-putt bogey on his last hole was a setback, it didn’t keep him from the only place he wanted to be.

“The goal was to go out and shoot a good number (Saturday), get myself in position to win this golf tournament,” Furyk said. “It could have been better out there. … Obviously, I dropped that shot at 18, which I’m disappointed. It was probably one of the easier holes of the day. But I’ve got myself in good position, so rather than harp on the last hole, I’d probably tend to want to think about (Sunday) and what I have to do to try to win a golf tournament.”

It doesn’t figure to be easy.

For starters, Furyk has failed to convert at least a share of the 54-hole lead into a victory in his last four attempts, two of them at major championships. And there were plenty of stars lined up behind, including Tiger Woods.

Stricker holed out from the 15th fairway for eagle on his way to a 64, putting him in the final group as he tries to win for the first time this year. Brandt Snedeker salvaged a sloppy day with a birdie on his last hole for a 71 and was two shots behind. Johnson had a 69 and was another shot back.

Woods was still fuming after being handed a two-shot penalty Friday when his ball appeared to shift as he was removing a twig near it before a shot from the woods. But he ran off six birdies in seven holes in the middle of his round to get within two shots. His momentum was slowed when he missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole, and then pulled his 3-wood into the water on the 15th and did well to make bogey. He had a 66.

“I had a nice little run to at least get myself in there where I have a chance (Sunday),” Woods said.

Furyk cleared one mental battle by trying to put that 59 behind him and return his focus to the tournament. Now comes another mental battle that figures to be even tougher. Furyk has gone three years since he last won a tournament, and it hasn’t been from a lack of opportunity.

A playoff loss in Tampa Bay last year. The tee shot he hooked on the 16th hole at Olympic Club that ended his shot at the U.S. Open. A double bogey on the 18th hole at Firestone that cost him a wire-to-wire win. A share of the lead with Davis Love III at Sea Island last fall.

Just last month, he had a one-shot lead going into the final round of the PGA Championship and was outplayed by Jason Dufner.

“It’s been three years. No one has to remind me of the Tour Championship in ’10, and as I’ve had some of the close calls last year, I definitely put some more pressure on myself,” he said. “That will be part of the mental game and the mental aspect of it tomorrow, to go out there and stay in the moment and just play golf and not really worry about it. I’ll play my best if I’m focused on the task at hand, not on the results.”

Sergio Garcia played with Woods and didn’t endure very much at all. It was their first time playing together since Garcia and Woods had a verbal spat at The Players Championship, which ended badly when Garcia jokingly said he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open and serve him fried chicken.

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