Matt Kuchar lines up his putt on the 14th green during the third round of the Barclays tournament Saturday in Jersey City, N.J. (Reuters/Adam Hunger)
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland battled to a tie for the lead at breezy Liberty National and will be paired for a final-round Sunday duel at The Barclays, the opening event of the FedExCup playoffs.
Kuchar carded a 1-under 70, while fellow-American Woodland shot a 68 to finish Saturday’s third round locked at 12-under 131.
Unheralded Kevin Chappell fired a sensational, course record 62 to stand one stroke behind his compatriots in pursuit of his first title on the PGA Tour.
Four shots off the pace were Tiger Woods and England’s David Lynn, who both returned two-under 69s on the waterside course under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
Woods, among 40 players who returned early Saturday morning to complete the second round after play was suspended due to darkness in the weather-hit event, slipped from seven-under with a pair of bogeys but battled back with three late birdies to reach eight-under 205.
“Just hung in there and that was a grind,” said world No. 1 Woods, who has been bothered by a sore back after a poor night’s sleep on a soft hotel bed this week.
Seven players were tied at 206, including U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England (70), Americans Bubba Watson (68), Rickie Fowler (71), Jim Furyk (70), Kevin Streelman (68) and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth (68), and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt.
Kuchar, who was grouped with Woods in the resumption of their second round, claimed a two-shot lead over Woodland and 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson at the 36-hole mark.
Woodland, playing in a threesome with Kuchar and Simpson, used a string of four birdies in a row from the sixth to vault into a lead that grew to three strokes before bogeys at 11 and 12 and birdies by Kuchar at 13 and 14 created a tie.
The 29-year-old, big-hitting Woodland, who earlier this month won the Reno-Tahoe Open for his first PGA title, went ahead again with a birdie at 16 but he bogeyed 17 after his tee shot plugged under the lip of a fairway bunker and he had to hit out sideways.
Simpson slumped into a tie for 13th at six-under 207 after registering a 74.
The top 125 players on the FedExCup list qualified for The Barclays and the leading 100 players on the points list will advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
The winner of the playoffs finale, the 30-man Tour Championship, will receive a bonus prize of $10 million.