The hottest player from the PGA’s regular season and the hottest player from its post-season are fit to be tied after 54 holes of the last tournament of the 2013-2014 campaign.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, winner of the PGA Championship and The Open Championship, shot a 3-under 67 to tie Billy Horschel at 9-under after 54 holes at the TOUR Championship Saturday.
Horschel entered the day with a 2-stroke lead, but only managed a 1-under 69, his “worst” round in three tournaments.
Only 12 of the 29 players in the field shot under par as the course began catching up and a bit of fatigue set in.
McIlroy started the round off with a birdie-bogey-birdie sequence, then hit another birdie on No. 9 to hit the turn 2-under. He bogeyed No. 10, but scored an eagle 3 on the par-5 No. 15 to get to 3-under.
Horschel, who won the BMW Championship last week and hit consecutive 66s on Thursday and Friday, was 3-under at the turn but 2-over on the back nine with two bogeys and no birdies.
Horschel entered the tournament second in the FedExCup standings with McIlroy fourth, meaning if either man wins the tournament Sunday, he will also win the FedExCup title and the $10 million prize that accompanies it.
It’s hardly a two-man race, however. Eight other players are within five strokes of the lead headed to Sunday, among them two Major winners, the No. 2 player in the world and the current FedEx leader.
American Jim Furyk also shot a 3-under 67 to rise from fifth to third, He’s 7-under and two strokes back.
2013 US Open champion Justin Rose had the third-best round of the day, a 4-under 66 to forge a three-way tie for fourth at 6-under with American Rickie Fowler and Aussie Jason Day.
Tied for seventh are Americans Russell Henley, Ryan Palmer and Chris Kirk. Kirk entered the tournament leading Horschel by 9 points in the overall standings, but his 1-over 71 on Saturday dropped him from second place.
World No. 2 Adam Scott is alone in 10th at 4-under after firing a 5-under 65. At even par through eight holes, Scott fired birdies on Nos. 9, 10, 12, 14 and 15 to rally.
Masters champion Bubba Watson is just outside the Top 10 at 3-under, while Barclays winner Matt Kuchar is 12th at 2-under.
The round of the day belonged to Gary Woodland, who fired a 7-under 63 to leap from 25th to 13th place at 1-under. Woodland had five birdies on the front nine and eagled No. 15.
The remaining 16 players in the field are at even par or above, including Jimmy Walker (+1), Martin Kaymer (+5), and Jordan Spieth (+11).
Spieth shot a disastrous 10-over 80 on Saturday, the worst round of his short professional career. Spieth was 6-over through the first six holes, then bogeyed five straight to start off the back nine, falling from 16th to 28th.
The tournament’s final round begins at 11:50 a.m. local time Sunday when Geoff Ogilvy tees off.
Horschel and McIlroy, the day’s final pairing, hit the links at 2:05 p.m.