Friday, May 25, 2018

Garcia holds lead at Deutsche Bank Championship

NORTON, Mass. — Sergio Garcia was doing everything right. He had the lead going into the third round. He kept bogeys off his card and made two birdies on the front nine.

And he was losing ground Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

"You could make a lot of birdies if everything went exactly the right way, kind of like it went on the back nine for me," Garcia said. "But you have to be patient and just wait for the right time."

The Spaniard regained control on the back nine at the rain-softened TPC Boston, making five birdies for 6-under 65 that gave him a two-shot lead over Henrik Stenson. Garcia hit a 4-iron from 218 yards onto the 18th green for a two-putt birdie as darkness settled over New England on this longest of days.

But nothing is close to being settled at this FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour.

Not with such a soft course, with preferred lies, with mint conditions on the putting surfaces and the world's best players — most of them, anyway — in top form. There were 332 birdies and 10 eagles in the third round, translating to sub-par holes 32 percent of the time.

"There's heaps of low scores out there," Stenson said after his 66. "You have to keep making birdies if you want to have anything to do with this tournament. (Sunday) was no different. It's going to be the same (today)."

Tee times have been moved up to this morning because of the threat of more rain.

Garcia was at 19-under 194, though he isn't great at protecting the 54-hole lead. His record is 3-7 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the last day.

Graham DeLaet of Canada all but locked up a spot on the Presidents Cup team with a 62 that left him three behind with Steve Stricker, who had 63 and took a big step toward making the U.S. team for the matches next month at Muirfield Village.

The average score Sunday was 68.2, and anything higher than that meant losing ground. About the only ones who couldn't keep up were the star attractions at the start of the week, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, who started the third round five off the lead, had his second straight 71 and wound up 12 shots behind. Woods didn't get anything going early and fell apart on the back nine, finishing at 1-over 72 and 13 shots back.

LPGA: Suzann Pettersen won the Safeway Classic for the second time in three years, taking advantage of playing partner Yani Tseng's final-round collapse in Portland, Ore.

Three strokes behind Tseng entering the round, Pettersen closed with 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over Stacy Lewis (68). Pettersen finished at 20-under 268 for her second victory of the year and 12th overall. Tseng followed her third-round 63 with 78 to tie for ninth at 12 under.

Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (70) finished at 283 and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (72) at 289.

CHAMPIONS: Rocco Mediate ran away with the inaugural Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary for his second victory in 17 starts in his first tour season. Mediate, 50, closed with 7-under 64 to finish at 22-under 191 for a seven-stroke victory over Tom Byrum (64).