Farmingdale, NY – Sergio Garcia shot a 2-under 69 on Saturday to grab sole possession of the third-round lead at The Barclays, the first PGA Tour Playoffs event.
Garcia, a second-round co-leader, finished 54 holes at 10-under 203 at Bethpage Black. He is two strokes clear of Nick Watney, his fellow overnight leader.
Garcia is in the midst of some great golf. After his Monday victory at the Wyndham Championship secured a spot on the European Ryder Cup team, Garcia could be aiming for another Cup, the FedExCup.
Watney bogeyed the last for an even-par 71.
Kevin Stadler fired a 6-under 65 and vaulted up 39 places to third at minus-7.
Brandt Snedeker, who is trying to get one of American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III's captain's picks in a few weeks, shot a 3-under 68 and is tied for fourth with Bob Estes, who had a 72 on Saturday. The pair finished at 6-under 207.
Tiger Woods' back appeared to be better on Saturday, but his golf game, more specifically his putter, was no good. Woods had four 3-putts on Saturday and only managed a 1-over 72.
"I hit good putts, but my speed was awful," admitted Woods, who is tied for 10th at 4-under par. "That was a bit of a shocker. It was slippery out there. I played a beautiful round of golf, unfortunately didn't clean it up on the greens.
"It was unbelievable how fast it got. Some of the greens have grass, some of them are on the dirt side. They're right at the limit. They're slippery once you start putting."
Woods wasn't the only player who felt the greens teetered toward unplayable.
Ian Poulter, who shot a 5-over 76. and took to Twitter with his feelings.
"The worst course setup I have ever played in 13 years on tour," he tweeted. "They have ruined what is a great course, greens like concrete stupid pins."
Even Garcia thought the putting surfaces were shaky.
"It was very tough. The greens were beyond fast. It felt like there was no resistance on the grass," he said in a televised interview. "You have to be very careful."
The PGA Tour's VP of Rules & Competition, Slugger White released a statement after the round.
"We haven't done anything different since Wednesday night. Handwatered at night & morning," the PGA Tour tweeted. "Same [watering]tonight & tomorrow, with more attention to holes 2 & 8, which got crusty."
Watney was the first of the second-round co-leaders to make a move on Saturday. He birdied three of his first five and Garcia managed two birdies and a bogey in the same space.
After an errant drive at the 10th, Garcia made bogey and found himself three behind Watney. The 11th hole proved to be a huge swing. Garcia sank a 19- footer for birdie and Watney couldn't save par after he found a greenside bunker.
Watney's lead was down to one and it completely evaporated after the next hole. Watney bogeyed the 12th and he and Garcia were tied at 9-under par.
Garcia made a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th to inch ahead by one. Watney needed to make a 15-footer for par to stay one back and he poured it in the center of the cup.
Watney missed the 15th green left and chipped to seven feet. His par putt stayed above ground and the bogey dropped him two behind Garcia, who stayed in front with pars.
At the par-3 17th, Watney drained a 35-footer for the first, and only birdie of the day at the difficult hole. He trimmed the gap to one, but his 33-footer for birdie at the last hit actually the hole and still ran 14 feet past the cup. Watney missed the par save and was two back.
Garcia holed a 4-footer for par at the last and will carry a 2-stroke lead into the final round. He will try to become the first player this season to win in back-to-back weeks on tour.
"It was one of those days where you knew, even playing perfect, you were going to make some bogeys," Garcia said on TV. "The great thing was that I was able to come back every time after I made a bogey and birdie the next. That kept my momentum going."
Brian Harman (68), Greg Chalmers (68), Ryan Moore (70) and John Senden (72) share sixth at 5-under 208.
Phil Mickelson fired a 4-under 67 and Lee Westwood had a 68 on Saturday. They were two of several players who matched Woods in 10th at 4-under.
NOTES: Garcia has eight PGA Tour titles...This is the ninth time Garcia has held at least a share of the third-round lead on tour and he only won three of the previous eight times, including last week...Defending champion Dustin Johnson had a 1-over 72 and is tied for 18th at 3-under.