- Associated Press - Monday, September 6, 2010

NORTON, MASS. (AP) - The Deutsche Bank Championship isn’t the only thing at stake on Labor Day.

Jason Day has a one-shot lead going into the final round _ the only scheduled Monday finish on the PGA Tour _ thanks to a routine birdie on the par-5 18th hole that didn’t get nearly as loud of a cheer as Brandt Snedeker chipping in for par.

Day shot a 5-under 66 and tied the 54-hole record at the TPC Boston of 17-under 196. He will play in the final group with Snedeker, whose amazing par gave him a 67, for the second straight day.

For so many others, the Deutsche Bank offers much more.

Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson have a chance to get to No. 1 in the world ranking for the first time in their careers, and while Stricker was closer to the lead, Mickelson had more scenarios of replacing Tiger Woods.

Woods is 10 shots out of the lead after a 69 in the third round Sunday. It’s the third straight tournament he has been at least nine shots behind going into the final round, so winning is out of the question. And while Woods playfully called out to Ryder Cup assistant captain Davis Love III, “Will you pick me?” he is virtually certain to be one of the four captain’s picks on Tuesday.

As for the others?

Monday could go a long way toward players making one last pitch, even if no one has distinguished himself. Among the 14 players that captain Corey Pavin had on a white sheet of paper, Ryan Palmer in a tie for 18th _ nine shots back _ is the first name on the leaderboard.

And then there’s the FedEx Cup playoffs, with the top 70 in the standings moving on to Chicago next week, one tournament closer to the season-ending Tour Championship and a shot at the $10 million prize.

Among those on the bubble are Vijay Singh, who made an albatross in the third round, and Andres Romero, who was tied for 10th in a tournament that he wouldn’t even be at except for a 40-foot birdie putt he made on the last hole of the previous tournament.

Also still with an outside shot: Padraig Harrington, who missed the cut, although he would need a lot of help.

Day is only concerned with one thing.

“I think the biggest thing for me is to commit to the shot that needs to be hit and not standing up there and second-guessing myself,” he said. “Because the moment I do that, the moment the ball starts to go a little wide, especially with the driver. I need to try and give myself as much birdie chances out there as possible. I think that’s the key (Monday).”

He has the lead, but not control.

Not with Snedeker only one shot behind, followed by Luke Donald of England at 15-under 198. Donald is far more relaxed knowing that he has been picked for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, also he figures a victory would quash any debate on whether he was the right pick.

Stricker, the defending champion, and Charley Hoffman were four shots behind, with most of the attention on Stricker. He has not made a bogey all week at the TPC Boston, and his streak without a bogey is 72 straight holes dating to last week.

At 12-under 201 _ five shots behind _ is the group that features Mickelson and a pair of Aussies, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott.

Mickelson is hitting fairways, but he had the most fun hitting the pin.

A year ago on the 15th hole, facing a front left pin, he banged his approach off the flag and watched it roll off the green. He was determined not to let that happen again and said he told his caddie, “I’m going to try to just miss the pin.”

He missed his mark _ and hit the pin.

The ball spun around, caught the false front and rolled into the rough. Instead of getting mad, Mickelson got even. He chipped in for a birdie, and gave his biggest fist pump of the day.

“That was a fun little moment, because that stuff happens,” Mickelson said.

This is the 10th tournament this year that Mickelson has had a mathematical chance of replacing Woods at No. 1 in the world, and one of his better chances. He was four shots behind going into the final round at Firestone and shot 78.

This time, Mickelson might only need to finish in fourth place alone, provided Woods is out of the top 24. And this time, he is far more confident in his driving, with only his iron play needing to get a little more sharp.

“I haven’t paid attention to what needs to happen,” Mickelson said. “But I’m looking forward to getting in the hunt tomorrow and seeing if I can get off to a good start and make some birdies.”

Woods keeps making progress, although not on the leaderboard.

He got off to a good start and got within four shots of the leaders _ before they had teed off _ until he stopped making putts. Woods made a difficult flop shot behind the 18th green look easy, hitting it to a foot for birdie. He appears safe to advance to the third round of the playoffs next week at Cog Hill, where he is the defending champion.

“I think I played better than what my score indicated,” Woods said. “I had a lot of putts that I didn’t make.”

Snedeker is making plenty, including back-to-back birdies late in his round that kept him in the game. The chip-in for par certainly helped, although Snedeker figures every shot will count somewhere on the course or during a tournament.

Playing in the final group one shot behind? It was too early to get excited.

“We’re both going to have to go out there and play some good golf,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys right there with a chance, and Jason played fantastic today. I don’t see him slipping up any.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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