NEW YORK (Reuters) – American Olympic team mates Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed will have one eye on victory and another on the Ryder Cup in the final round of The Barclays on New York’s Long Island on Sunday.
Fowler has a one-stroke lead over his compatriot after Saturday’s third round in the first of four events making up the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff series.
Extending his bogey-free streak to 45 holes, Fowler sank a four-foot birdie at the last to edge ahead with a three-under 68 on the tough Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale.
He posted a nine-under 204 total while overnight leader Reed carded a 71 to sit alone in second place. Australian Adam Scott (65) was a further shot adrift on seven-under after finding his putting touch to post the lowest round of the tournament.
Scott was also helped on his way when he holed out for an eagle from 95 yards at the first hole.
As well as the victory here, Fowler and Reed are vying for Ryder Cup selection. The top eight on the points list on Sunday night automatically make the American team to face holders Europe in five weeks.
Reed is currently eighth with Fowler four places below.
Fowler probably needs a top-three finish on Sunday to lock down a spot and avoid having to sweat out banking on being called up as one of captain Davis Love’s four wild card picks.
FINE SHORT GAME
“I think it’s pretty simple. We’ve just got to go take care of business tomorrow,” Fowler told reporters.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in this position… I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming.”
Fowler’s long game has been far from perfect this week but he acknowledged his short game had allowed him to move ahead.
“It was nice to see some putts go in. Short game has definitely been nice this week to save me at times,” he added.
“Sometimes hitting good putts but also hitting good pitch shots. Good combination but nice to have the putter finally working a bit.”
Reed, meanwhile, battled a wayward driver on the front nine, but did enough to stay well in contention.
“My tee shots were off, hanging right,” he said. “Felt like I got absolutely nothing out of my round.
“Any time I tried to hit my draw, seemed like it went right. That’s really the only thing I feel like I need to fix.
“You can’t play out of the rough here and I felt like I was playing out of the rough all day. Shooting even par isn’t that bad of a score.”
Reed finished in a tie for 11th behind Briton Justin Rose as golf marked its return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence in Rio earlier this month. Fowler was back in a tie for 37th.
Third-placed Scott decided late in the second round to putt more aggressively and it paid off on Saturday as he sank a couple of long ones.
“I just thought, ‘what difference does it make if I hit this past the hole, because I’ve left every putt short?’. And if it goes past, it might go in.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O’Brien)