Carmel, IN – Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are tied atop the leaderboard after Saturday's third round of the BMW Championship, the third PGA Tour Playoffs event.
Singh, the second-round leader, bogeyed the last for a 3-under 69. Mickelson fired an 8-under 64 and the pair is knotted at 16-under-par 200 at Crooked Stick.
Two Hall of Famers in first is something, but those right behind the leaders could make this a final round to remember.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who leads the FedExCup Playoffs points race thanks to his win last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship and his victory at the PGA Championship, birdied the last to match Lee Westwood in a tie for third.
"Phil obviously played well today," said McIlroy. "You know, he might go out there and shoot the same number again tomorrow, but I just have to concentrate on myself and try and do the best that I can."
Tiger Woods lurks only 3 back at 13-under par after a third round that wasn't too spectacular.
Woods appeared to aggravate his knee injury and shot a 1-under 71.
He was 3-over par and chipped in for birdie at the ninth. That started a run of three straight birdies and he added another at the 13th to get into the mix.
"I grinded hard," said Woods. "I didn't have much, and on top of that I made two really bad bogeys on seven and eight from the middle of the fairway, but at least I fought back where I have a chance going into tomorrow. It's probably going to take 63 or 64 tomorrow, but it can be done out here."
Dustin Johnson (67), Adam Scott (66) and Robert Garrigus (66) share fifth at 14-under, one shot ahead of Woods, who is alone in eighth.
As if the star power at the top of the leaderboard wasn't enough, neither player in the final two pairings are terribly close with the other.
Singh and Mickelson allegedly got into a heated argument in the locker room at the Masters years back when Singh claimed Mickelson's metal spikes scuffed up the greens. Reports said the two had to be separated.
The McIlroy/Westwood relationship reportedly soured some time last year when McIlroy dropped Chubby Chandler as his manager. Westwood and Chandler have been together for years, although reports lately have said the two are fine.
The interesting drama of the pairings aside, Saturday's golf was, at times, spectacular.
Mickelson started things off and bogeyed the third hole. He got the stroke back with a 14-foot birdie putt at four, then, after a par at five, Mickelson went on a tear.
He birdied four holes in a row to close his opening nine. Mickelson reached 12-under par and got within one after a birdie at the par-5 11th. Mickelson converted an 11-footer for birdie at 13 and tied Singh atop the leaderboard.
Mickelson missed the green with his approach at 14, then missed it again with his chip. He made a 7-footer to save bogey and that was the last hiccup for the 4-time major champion.
Mickelson birdied the 15th and closed with a 7-foot birdie putt at the 17th and 15-foot birdie from the fringe at the last. He had to wait for Singh to finish his round to become a third-round leader.
"It was a fun day. I got it going with the putter. I hit a lot of good shots," said Mickelson. "It was very similar, actually, to yesterday's round where I played really well, had a lot of good opportunities. But yesterday when the ball was getting to the lip and turning away, today they seemed to fall in."
Mickelson won this year at Pebble Beach, then seemed poised for a fourth green jacket, but fumbled a bit on Sunday at the Masters. He's had only two top 10s since Augusta, but one of those was last week.
"It's taken me a little while to piece it back together, but I could tell last week that my game was back and I was ready to play at the highest level again," said Mickelson, who tied for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. "I knew heading into this week I was going to have a good week."
Singh had a much more interesting round.
He was 4-under through 13 holes, but that left him just one in front of Mickelson. At the 14th, Singh's second landed in the right rough and his par try from 20 feet stayed above ground.
Singh was tied again and the last four holes saw several changes to the top of the leaderboard, thanks to his play.
At the par-5 15th, Singh appeared to be in some trouble when his third went long left. He chipped in for birdie and was back in the lead by himself. His 4-foot par putt lipped out at 16, but Singh poured in a 33-foot birdie putt at the 17th to go one clear of Mickelson again.
Singh found the short grass at the last. His approach stopped 43 feet left of the flag and his birdie putt left him with a little more than five feet for par. The par save missed left and now Singh and Mickelson are tied for the lead.
"It was totally a mixed plate," Singh said of his round. "On the whole I hit the ball pretty decent. I'm still in the lead, and I'm going to go out there tomorrow and see what happens."
Singh, 49, hasn't won on tour since 2008 in these Playoffs. He went on to win the FedExCup that year and knows he's got a great opportunity on Sunday.
"I've got to be careful not to force myself," acknowledged Singh. "There's a lot of chances out there, and if I don't win tomorrow, I'll still have a lot of chances until the end of the year and next year, as well."
Singh has a little more at stake than Mickelson on Sunday. Singh came into the week 49th in Playoffs points and the top 30 head to the Tour Championship in two weeks. A fourth or better sends Singh to East Lake, but he's not interested in that at the moment.
"I'm really not worried about it. I'm worried about trying to go out there and finish this tournament," he said.
Zach Johnson (68), Graeme McDowell (69) and Bo Van Pelt (71) share ninth at 12-under par.
NOTES: Mickelson has 40 PGA Tour wins, while Singh has 34...Singh was a joint 36-hole leader at the PGA Championship...The start of the third round was delayed an hour due to overnight rain...Defending champion Justin Rose had a 2-under 70 on Saturday and is tied for 18th at 9-under.