With an orange ribbon on his hat and nine birdies on his card, Matt Kuchar pulled within a shot of the lead Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship at Norton, Mass. Not that he needed a reminder, but a message posted on the scoring table spoke to the emotions involved in this tournament.
Players were offered a chance to donate to a trust fund for the 4-year-old daughter of Lance Bennett, his caddie. Bennett's wife, Angela, died of a seizure Wednesday. Kuchar decided to play to raise awareness and get the tour involved in helping the family.
His performance certainly helped.
Ryan Palmer overcame a rocky start for an even-par 71. Jason Day struggled at the end for a 68. They were tied for the lead on the TPC Boston going into the third round of a FedEx Cup playoff event that ends on Labor Day.
Kuchar was a shot behind after a 66 that featured six consecutive birdies around the turn.
"You never know how things will work out in the game of golf," Kuchar said. "But it felt like there's some fate working, as well. The funeral is coming up and some things that will be difficult. But right now, I feel like there's some inspiration and some fate working."
Palmer, who started with a 63, made birdie on his first hole and thought he was off to the races. He followed with a double bogey, a bogey and then tried to hang. A birdie on the final hole put him at eight-under 134.
"It could have gone the other way real quick," Palmer said. "I was glad to get that last birdie on 18 and salvage even."
Day, who shared the 54-hole lead last week at the Barclays, looked as though he might pull away. Day ran off five birdies on the front nine for a 31 to build a two-shot lead, only to drop four shots coming in.
Billy Horschel had a 66 and joined Kuchar at seven-under 135.
Three players hopeful of a Ryder Cup pick on Tuesday — Bill Haas, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson — were among those at six under. U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer had a 66 and joined the group at five under that included Jordan Spieth.
Rory McIlroy had a double bogey late in his round that slowed his momentum. He had a 69 and was five shots behind. Phil Mickelson is still playing, and looking better to play next week too. Mickelson had a 69 and made the cut at one-over 145.
The top 70 in the FedEx Cup move on to Cherry Hills in Denver next week for the third playoff event.
Pettersen loves Portland
Defending champion Suzann Pettersen shot her second straight five-under 67 for a share of the third-round lead in the LPGA Tour's Portland Classic.
Trying to match Nancy Lopez's record with her third victory in the event, Pettersen had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey at Columbia Edgewater. The fourth-ranked Norwegian star is winless this season after winning four times last year to push her career total to 14.
Spain's Carlota Ciganda and South Korea's Mi Jung Hur shot 70 to match Pettersen at 11-under 205. Ciganda bogeyed the par-four 18th to fall into the tie.
Three tied at Calgary
Bob Tway shot a seven-under 63 for a share of the second-round lead with Joe Durant and Joe Daley in the Champions Tour's Shaw Charity Classic at Calgary, Canada.
Durant and Daley shot 68 to match Tway at 10-under 130 at Canyon Meadows.
Gary Hallberg, Mark McNulty and David Frost were nine under.
Hennie Otto of South Africa shot a one-under 71 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Italian Open at Turin, where Stephen Gallacher's late bid to qualify for the Ryder Cup will go down to the wire.
Gallacher produced four birdies and one bogey in a round of 69 to move to within six shots of the lead and four behind compatriot Richie Ramsay (66) in second place. Gallacher is the only man still capable of moving into the automatic Ryder Cup places in the final qualifying event, with a top-two finish enough to dislodge former U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell from Europe's team.