Atlanta - Paul Casey has been flying under the radar heading into the Tour Championship but the Englishman emerged from a star-studded leaderboard on Saturday to seize a two-shot lead heading into the final round.
The 40-year old Casey - who missed the birth of his second child to play in the final two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs - fired a five-under 65 to vault into the lead ahead of Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner after the third round of the event.
"I need to win the Tour Championship in order to win the FedEx Cup," Casey said. "For me, the most important thing is trying to focus on trying to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx is an amazing by-product of hopefully doing that."
Casey, who is looking for his second career USPGA Tour win, is at 12-under 198 in the final tournament of the PGA Tour's 2017 playoffs.
Kisner (64) and rookie Schauffele (65) are tied for second at 10-under 200.
Tied for fourth at seven-under 203 is reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas (70), Patrick Reed (69) and US Open champion Brooks Koepka (68).
Casey hasn't won on the USPGA Tour in eight years but this season has been one of the most consistent finishers. If he follows through on Sunday he could win the tournament, the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million bonus that goes with it.
Casey began the week in 10th place in the PGA Tour playoffs so not only would he need the victory on Sunday but several other pieces have to fall into place for that to happen.
"I was just told the scenarios that could possibly happen and I said it's all irrelevant if I don't get the job done," Casey said. "So, for me, focus on one thing. I can't control what everybody else does."
He has finished in the top 10 eight times this season, with most of those coming in the second half of the season.
"I had nothing to lose last week, and I have absolutely nothing to lose this week," said Casey who also has six top-five finishes in his last eight FedEx Cup playoff events.
Casey became a father for the second time September 11 but he has still not seen his baby daughter, Astaria, because he was preparing to play in the BMW Championship.
If Casey does win the tournament and he will be showered with the combined $11.58 million jackpot which will buy a lot of baby gifts.
Casey started quickly Saturday with two birdies and an eagle in his first six holes. He eagled the par-five sixth hole and curved in the 41-foot putt on the par-four 17 for a birdie, the fifth of his round.
Casey closed with an adventurous No. 18 where he had to get up and down. His approach landed short of the green in the rough then dribbled into a bunker. He tried to chip out but got too much sand and his ball found the rough again. He eventually chipped onto the green and then one-putted for par.
His only real stumble was when he made back-to-back bogeys on number eight and nine.
"A couple of blemishes on the card, but bounced back nicely and found the fairways, found the greens and put myself in there with chances," he said.
Top-seeded Jordan Spieth, who won the FedEx Cup two years ago, followed his 70 on Friday with a one-under 69 to reach a four-under 206 total.
Spieth has his work cut out for him as he is tied for 13th with world number one Dustin Johnson (69), eight shots back of Casey.
"Unfortunately, I'm not really in control of my own destiny at this point, but I'll go out (Sunday), try and shoot a really solid round of golf and then do some cheerleading," Spieth said.
Leading third-round scores on Saturday in the Tour Championship, the
final of four tournaments in the PGA Tour's playoffs (USA unless noted):
198 - Paul Casey (ENG) 66-67-65
200 - Kevin Kisner 68-68-64, Xander Schauffele 69-66-65
203 - Brooks Koepka 66-69-68, Patrick Reed 69-65-69, Justin Thomas 67-66-70
204 - Jason Day (AUS) 69-67-68, Jon Rahm (ESP) 67-67-70
205 - Russell Henley 67-71-67, Justin Rose (ENG) 68-66-71, Gary Woodland 67-67-71, Webb Simpson 66-67-72
206 - Dustin Johnson 68-69-69, Jordan Spieth 67-70-69