Watson has edge in Boston battle

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Bubba Watson had edged one shot clear of a huge chasing pack at the Deutsche Bank Championship after the third round.

Bubba Watson had edged one shot clear on a two dozen-strong congested leaderboard at the Deutsche Bank Championship after Sunday’s third round.

At 11-under he led by one from a five strong group made of two Australians, Jason Day and Adam Scott, and three Americans, Jerry Kelly, Brendan Steele and Chez Reavie, as the second leg of the four-event FedEx Cup play-off series headed into its traditional Labour Day Monday finish.

Three more Americans, seasoned Jim Furyk and young guns Gary Woodland and Web Simpson, England’s World No 1 Luke Donald and the reigning Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, are a shot further back at 9-under.

Watson, who had shared the lead at 10-under with Scott and Schwartzel after Friday’s second round, endured a real see-saw third day and, after dropping three shots early on the back nine, had to pick himself up and regain his cool coming down the closing stretch to hold on to the lead.

In the end a birdie at the TPC Boston’s 17th hole and a third-round 70 was just enough to put him clear on a day when Scott lost ground with a level-par 71 and Schwartzel with a 72, but when the bulk of Watson’s closest pursuers mostly shot ground-gaining 67s and 68s.

Furyk got there with a sizzling 66, Swede Robert Karlsson got within a shot of Furyk’s group with a 64, but the round of the day came from Phil Mickelson who blazed home with a 63 to get among the two dozen players within four shots of the lead.

Kelly, one of the US veterans fighting to hold off the game’s growing band of young lions, described the battle as being “kind of like a box of chocolates. You never really know what you’re going to get

“If we don’t get any of that rain tomorrow, hopefully we don’t, because I need the fairways to roll.”

Watson, chasing his third win on the PGA Tour this season, threatened to open up a bigger lead when he made his fourth birdie of the day on the 10th hole to reach 13-under par, but then he ran into trouble with those three bogeys.

But he wasn’t upset with himself. “I fought back down the stretch and I’m one up going into the last day so I’ll have a good shot at it.”

Scott, who shared the overnight lead with Watson and Schwartzel, birdied the last for a level par 71 while Day, who finished tied with his countryman in second place behind Schwartzel at Augusta in April, birdied the last two holes and made an eagle at the second in a round of 67.

“It was hard to get the ball really close today, the greens were a little bit firmer,” Scott said.

“But I’m playing well, hitting the ball well. If I can do that tomorrow I should give myself a chance.”

Back to Mickelson, who made six birdies and an eagle in his 63 to finish as one of two dozen players within four shots of the lead.

“It was a good ball-striking round, one of the best I’ve had,” Mickelson said without acknowledging that his rekindled spark may have been fueled by his new belly putter and the confidence it has brought back to his game.

For the record, Mickelson has won the last six tournaments in which he has posted a round of 63 or better, including this year’s Houston Open, when he fired a 63 in the third round.

The last time he shot a 63 and didn’t win was at the 2003 Bob Hope Classic where he tied for sixth.

The Deutsche Bank tournament is the second leg of the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs.

The leading 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings after Monday’s final round move on to the BMW Championship in Illinois before the top 30 qualify for the Tour Championship finale in Atlanta.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD:

202 Bubba Watson (USA) 68 64 70

203 Jason Day (Aus) 67 69 67,Brendan Steele (USA) 69 67 67, Chez Reavie (USA) 67 68 68, Jerry Kelly (USA) 66 69 68, Adam Scott (Aus) 69 63 71

204 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 66 66 72, Luke Donald (Eng) 66 70 68, Jim Furyk (USA) 69 69 66, Gary Woodland (USA) 69 69 66, Webb Simpson (USA) 69 68 67.

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