Paul Casey and Ian Poulter both go into the final round of the BMW Championship in Chicago – the third leg of the FedEx Cup play-off series – in a tie for fifth only two shots behind leader Ryan Moore.
Casey, controversially left out of Europe’s Ryder Cup team two weeks ago, had his third successive 69 – and could go to fifth in the world with victory tomorrow.
Poulter, who will earn his third cap at Celtic Manor on October 1-3 and was top-scorer last time, was in a share of second place on seven under par until he bogeyed the last for a 69 as well.
Moore, best known as the golfer who wears a tie while playing, fired a superb 66 to move up from ninth to first, a stroke ahead of fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson and also Korean Charlie Wi.
Justin Rose and Luke Donald slipped back to joint 14th with rounds of 71 and 72 respectively, while Tiger Woods climbed from 40th to 22nd with a 68.
That was one of the biggest moves of the day, but the world number one needs a bigger one over the closing 18 holes – only a top five finish is likely to see him qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta in a fortnight’s time.
Poulter, Casey and Donald were playing together and all three turned in one over 36s.
However, Poulter then started for home with a hat-trick of birdies, holed from 18 feet for another at the 17th before paying the price for driving into the right-hand rough down the difficult last.
He is now 27th in the cup standings and only the top 30 progress to the final leg. Last year he missed out by a shot after going into the water on the same final hole at Cog Hill.
Casey birdied the 11th, 15th and 17th as he continued his impressive form. He has not scored over 72 in any round during the last month, but that was not enough for cup captain Colin Montgomerie.
Woods, who was given a wild card by his captain Corey Pavin despite not having won all year, said: “It was good – I’ve been building all week.
“Each week it’s getting better and I haven’t been going at it very long under this new system (with coach Sean Foley). I’m very pleased with the progress.
“Hopefully tomorrow I can play myself into a round where I can be in contention to win.” He is eight shots back.
“As of now it looks like probably 61 or 62 might have to be the number.” He did the latter on the course in the third round last year and went on to win by eight.
“It’s hard because I’m making a complete swing change while playing. That’s not easy to do.”
Play-off pacesetter Kuchar, suffering from a virus this week, said after his 70: ``I would have preferred a later starting time, a little more time to sleep in and hopefully get a little better.
“I’m nowhere near 100%, but the difference between yesterday and today was big. It was a steady day and I’m excited about the way I’m playing.
“I wanted so bad to just pull out of the tournament and go home. The last thing I wanted to do was be out here trying to play golf, but I’m very pleased.”