Scores were low on Saturday at Ridgewood Country Club, none lower than Keegan Bradley’s nine-under 62, which stands as the best round of the week. It put Bradley at 12-under 201, which, for quite a while, had him in the solo lead in the clubhouse.
Back on the fourth hole, Bryson DeChambeau saw that number and knew he had to put together something similar if he wanted to overtake him. He did, nearly matching Bradley’s 62 with an eight-under 63, giving him a four-shot lead at 16-under 197 heading into Sunday.
“That was impressive,” DeChambeau said of Bradley’s round. “And I knew if I wanted to be at the top of the leaderboard I had to take it deep today. Fortunately, that’s what I did.”
After a respectable start of two-under par through five holes, DeChambeau did take it deep, starting with birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes, all following approach shots that he put within 11 feet of the hole. He made four more birdies after that, two from short range on 11 and 12, and two more on his final two holes of the day, highlighted by a 17-footer at the 18th, by far his longest conversion of the day.
“It was beautiful,” he said of the birdie at 18. “Rolled it right down my line, played it about six inches out, and lipped it right over the edge.”
DeChambeau is looking for his second victory this season, and the third of his career, the first two coming at the 2017 John Deere Classic and this year’s Memorial Tournament, where he also held the 54-hole lead. A fourth win would come at an opportune time, as DeChambeau looks to strengthen his case for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick.
“Man on a mission, that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
For Bradley, the 62 gives him an opportunity to win for the first time since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He’s given himself chances in the six years since, but has never been able to go on a similar run to the one he went on between 2011 and 2012, when he won three times, including the 2011 PGA Championship. Ending this win drought would be an added bonus to what Bradley’s main goal is, which is being back at the top of his game and earning mention amongst the world’s best.
“I got a lot to play for in these FedExCup Playoffs,” said Bradley. “I’m trying to get back into the Majors. I’m trying to get back into the WGCs and with one good week here, you can do that. I’m all-out, every week, every day, because there’s so much to play for this time of year that can set up your following year, and even years to come.
“I’ve got a lot to play for, so you know, lowest I can shoot, pretty much every day.”
One back of Bradley at 11-under 202 are Australia’s Cameron Smith who fired a brilliant 65 and Tony Finau (66), another Ryder Cup hopeful looking to impress American team captain Jim Furyk.
Billy Horschel, who shot a six-under 65, is tied for fifth with Adam Scott at 10-under 203. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka are at nine-under 204.