Tour Championship notebook

For 43 holes, Nick Watney looked more like a bridegroom than a birdie machine. Watney appeared more concerned with his upcoming wedding than he did with who's leading the race for the FedEx Cup.

But on the eighth hole, Watney said he discovered something in his setup that helped him start hitting it better. He birdied Nos. 8 and 9 to make the turn in 35, nothing dramatic, but better that Friday's 38. He got serious on the back nine and birdied seven holes, with no bogeys, for a 28, a Tour Championship scoring record for the back nine. His streak of six consecutive birdies matched Luke Donald for the best of the season; Donald did it last month at The Barclays.

The 63, which tied Watney for the sixth-best round in tournament history, didn't put him in contention, but certainly put him into position to early additional money for a nice honeymoon following his Oct. 30 wedding. He'll start the final round in eighth place, six strokes behind Jim Furyk. Still, it was a round to remember.

“I’d say it’s right up there. It’s one of the toughest courses we play, and this course hasn’t been too low all week,” Watney said. “Definitely for nine holes, it’s probably my best on Tour.”

Zach Johnson, who posted the course record 60 in 2007, played with Watney on Saturday. He told reporters afterward that Watney's 63 was more impressive than his own 60. Four of Watney's birdie putts were inside 10 feet, the longest was 26 feet.

Watney started the tournament with rounds of 71 and 74 and began the final round tied for 25. By the end of the day he was in eighth place at 2 under.

Watney also credited his caddie, Chad Reynolds, for helping him read the Bermuda greens. Reynolds is from Florida, where Bermuda greens are the rule.

“I hadn’t made anything all week, so I just said, ‘Chad, from now on you read them and tell me where to hit it, and he read them great,” Watney said.

Early start Sunday

With the chance of rain 80 percent for the final round, with possibilities of thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon, PGA Tour officials opted for an early Sunday start.

The final round will begin at 9 a.m., meaning the tournament should conclude around 3:30 p.m. The final round originally was scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m.


Ben Crane had the day's worst round, shooting a 76 and dropping from 10th place to 26th. Crane bogeyed five of his final seven holes and shot a 39 on the second nine. He was 0-for-7 in hitting fairways on the back nine. ... Defending champion Phil Mickelson bounced back with a 68. Mickelson had never made a bogey on any of East Lake's par 5s until he made one Saturday on the ninth hole, ending his streak at 34. ... If he finishes alone in second place, Paul Casey will set are a record for most money earned on the PGA Tour in one season for a non-winner. Casey has won $3,283,194; Furyk made $3,946,515 without a win in 2009.