NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A week honing his game at the Boston TPC helped Retief Goosen join Americans Steve Stricker and Sean O‘Hair in a share for the lead after the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Sunday.
World number one Tiger Woods, who did not make a birdie until the 15th hole, carded an one-over-par 72 to post a four-under 209 total and is out of contention in a tie for 30th, nine shots behind the leading trio.
“I was on the driving range here Monday morning hitting balls for three hours,” Goosen said. “I played very poorly last week, struggled with my driving (but) I’ve been driving it very nicely this week.”
Goosen was speaking after a disappointing par at the par-five 18th, where he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker, settling for a three-under-par 68 in a testing breeze.
He joined Stricker (65) and O‘Hair (70) at 13-under 200, one stroke ahead of Irishman Padraig Harrington and Americans Scott Verplank and Kevin Na.
Twelve players were bunched within three strokes and Goosen said the winner will have to shoot very low in the final round, as Vijay Singh did last year, when he shot a closing 63 to come from three shots off the pace.
“Somebody is going to have to shoot like six-under or seven-under to win,” continued Goosen.
Stricker, meanwhile, birdied three of the first four holes on his way to the day’s best score.
He also eagled the last, after his second shot, with a utility club, landed in front of the green and took a fortunate bounce to within five feet of the hole.
“I just didn’t make any putts yesterday, so the emphasis today was to grind a little bit harder and concentrate a little bit harder on my putting and make some good strokes, and I did, which was satisfying,” he said.
“I‘m excited about tomorrow. I felt like last week I had an opportunity to win. I made a bogey on the last and Heath (Slocum) made a great putt (to win by one stroke).”
Harrington also finished one stroke off the pace last week, and is keen to close the deal after coming up short in his past three tournaments, despite being in contention each time.
“It’s going to put a lot of pressure on me tomorrow,” he said. “I won’t say I‘m desperate, but I‘m certainly pushing hard to get that win.”
Harrington can certainly count on plenty of gallery support in a region with a large Irish community.
”There’s a saying there’s five million people in Ireland and 40 million (Irish) people in the States and I think those 40 million people live in Boston.
“I‘m getting great encouragement and it’s very positive. You do feed off it and it’s certainly helped me over the last three days.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury