ATLANTA - By the end of the day's play at East Lake Golf Club, which came shortly before 2 p.m. ET, the rain was blowing sideways. The fairways were soggy and the greens were soaked. Indeed, there wasn't a surface anywhere outdoors at the Tour Championship that was anything close to dry.
Even so, Henrik Stenson, veteran of pelting-rain British Opens, called this just a "five out of 10" on the severe-weather scale. "This is kids' stuff, compared at least to the Saturday round at the British Open at St. George's. If I remember, that was like playing in a car wash."
Even so, the weather had its inexorable way with Stenson and the rest of the field. At the turn, Stenson was leading the tournament by nine strokes and looking like he was in complete control of the FedEx Cup. Nine holes later, his lead had dwindled to four, and his chances of taking home the Tour Championship weren't quite so bright.
"I'll choose to look at it from the bright side even though the weather is not that bright at the moment," he said. "Started the day with a four-shot lead, and I still got it. So that's all that matters, really."
After carding just two bogeys the first 45 rounds of the tournament, Stenson bogeyed four of the final nine holes. Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson was putting together a string of birdies, including three over the final six, to pull within four of Stenson.
"It was just a good solid stretch of golf," Johnson said of his round. "If I can keep driving it straight, then I'm going to give [Stenson] a run [Sunday]." The largest come-from-behind win at the Tour Championship was five strokes by Camilo Villegas in 2008.
Stenson's 69 was the worst of his week by far, following Friday's 66 and Thursday's 64. Strangely enough, this is the first time that Stenson has ever held or shared a third-round lead. With a victory on Sunday, he's assured of winning the FedEx Cup. He could still win the Cup without winning the tournament, provided Tiger Woods finishes low enough.
Weather on Sunday is expected to return to "playable," which means the leaders will tee off at 1:55 p.m. ET. Stenson and Johnson will be paired together. As nobody else is within five strokes of the lead, the competition will be afoot right from the first tee.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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