(Reuters) - Bryson DeChambeau birdied half the holes he played in the third round to seize a four-stroke lead as he and compatriot Keegan Bradley shook up the Northern Trust leaderboard on Saturday.
DeChambeau, looking to top the FedEx Cup standings on Sunday, fired a sparkling eight-under 63 with nine birdies to move to a 16-under total of 197 at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
Bradley went one better, his course record-tying 62 putting him in front until DeChambeau took control later to leave him in outright second on 201.
“I knew if I wanted to be at the top of the leaderboard, I’d have to take it deep today,” DeChambeau said.
He needed only one putt on five consecutive greens from the eighth to the 12th hole, draining four birdies and a par at the 10th. He finished off by birdie-ing the final two holes.
“That’s pretty impressive,” said DeChambeau, on his second year as a PGA Tour professional.
“If I can do something like that tomorrow I think I’m in a good spot.
“It’s going to be pedal to the metal. I’m going to try to keep it in the fairways just like I have all week.”
Bradley, who also had nine birdies and was bogey free, started the day with three consecutive birdies and kept going.
He added another at the seventh, then sank three in a row from the 12th and finished up with birdies on the last two holes.
“I hit 18 greens,” he said. “I don’t think I have ever done that. That’s pretty special.”
Work on his putting has paid off, he noted.
“I’ve seen more consistent putting and that makes the game so much easier.”
Australian Cameron Smith (65) and American Tony Finau (66) shared third at 202, five adrift of DeChambeau.
Seven birdies highlighted Smith’s round, four of them in a row from the third. His only bogey came at the 12th.
Jordan Spieth (64) and Phil Mickelson (68) were in a large group seven off the pace on nine-under.
“It was a tale of two nines because that front nine, I turned a four or five-under-par round into one-over, and the back nine I played well and was able to bring it home,” said Mickelson.
“Tomorrow it tells me there’s a seven, eight, nine-under-par round out there.”
Second round co-leaders Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark struggled. Koepka shot a one-over 72 to be a part of the group at 204 while Lovemark (73) was a further stroke off.
Tiger Woods went bogey-free for a three-under 68 but remains well behind on 210, his putting having left him far from happy [L2N1VG07R]
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar