Tour Report: Third-round observations

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Chris Condon/PGA TOURBethpage Black flexed some muscle Saturday as the FedExCup Playoffs heat up.

By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — There were eight cups that were cut less than 10 paces from the front of greens Saturday at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course. That made the golf course play very difficult. The greens were very firm and it was tough to spin the golf ball, so any shots landing on the green released to the back of the putting surface. Front hole locations yielded few birdies.

Black hole: The par-3 17th hole yielded a grand total of one birdie the entire day. Those in the corporate chalets and gallery surrounding the green had to wait until the final group played through to applaud a chip-in birdie from Nick Watney. When 75 of the best golfers in the world play a 193-yard par 3 and convert just a single birdie, that’s a great indication of how difficult the hole is playing.

Three putts: Tiger Woods set a record on Saturday, and it was not a good one. He three-putted four times. That’s the first time in his professional career that Woods has endured four three-putts in a single round. Woods was not alone. There were 14 three-putts on the 18th green alone. Anytime you have slick greens, you are going to have plenty of 4-foot par putts, and players struggled to make them.

Pace of play: TOUR officials asked the pairing of Watney and Garcia to increase their place of play on the 11th green. The group had clearly fallen out of position with the group in front already on the 12th green. Watney immediately picked up his pace of play and started making bogeys. He played the last eight holes in 3 over. Watney said he did get faster but did not think that contributed to his bogeys.

Ball striking: On a very difficult day to play golf, Garcia was in control of his game. The Spaniard hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. Garcia leads this golf tournament because of his ball-striking.

Body language: Garcia has bogeyed the par-3 third hole every day this week. Saturday, he committed an unforced three-putt, yet he picked his ball out of the cup and smiled and then laughed with his caddie Wayne Richardson. Garcia’s body language was very good the entire day, meeting birdie and bogey with even comportment.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.