NORTON, Mass. — Paul Casey is going after his first PGA Tour victory in seven years at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and he has plenty of names behind him to consider in the Labor Day finish.
Brian Harman is three shots behind. PGA champion Jimmy Walker is another shot back. Rory McIlroy, six shots behind, is still in the mix.
But the biggest name of all might be Hermine.
Once a hurricane, now classified as a post-tropical cyclone, the system was moving out toward the Atlantic and leaving behind some potentially challenging weather for the final round at the TPC Boston. In the forecast is 35 mph wind and bursts of showers for most of the final round.
Wind and rain make a recipe for just about anything.
“I used to do it fairly well in Europe,” said Casey, who grew up in England and lives in Arizona. “I don’t necessarily like it, but I can deal with it.”
He might not have a choice.
THE LEADER: No one led by more than one shot in the third round Sunday until Casey hit 7-iron to 5 feet for birdie on the 16th hole, and then closed out his round with a 3-iron that landed just left of the green on the par-5 18th, hopped on and caught a ridge that sent the ball 30 inches below the hole to set up an eagle.
That put him at 15-under 198.
What does that mean for Casey?
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “Still digest my 3-iron on the last. I don’t know. Depends on how bad it is.”
THE CHASERS: Harman’s only victory was two years ago at the John Deere Classic. Four shots behind, and playing in the final group, is Smylie Kaufman, who won his first PGA Tour event in Las Vegas at the start of the season. Walker and Kevin Chappell also were four back at 11-under 202.
Chappell is the only player from the top 10 on the leaderboard who has yet to win on the PGA Tour. He was in the lead at 13 under until a perfect tee shot on the 12th hole landed in a divot. He came up short into a hazard, tried to play out of the native area and wound up with a double bogey.
“I said yesterday that at some point in time during the next 36 holes, I was going to be hit with adversity,” Chappell said. “Felt like I hung in there and finished with six straight pars from not-the-best position. So that’s what I’m going to choose to look at, and hopefully tomorrow I can get the ball in position and try to make some birdies.”
THE OTHER RACE: The top 70 in the FedEx Cup after Monday advance to the third playoff event at Crooked Stick in the BMW Championship. Casey was at No. 59 and Harman at No. 67 and now should have no trouble advancing.
Monday could be far more significant for Steve Stricker, Charles Howell III and Billy Hurley III. Stricker barely made it into the Deutsche Bank Championship and is No. 98. He was tied for 11th, which at the moment is just enough for him to sneak into the top 70.
Hurley is at No. 77 and shot 69 to get into the large tie for 11th. Hurley should be fine, but a good finish would help.
Howell? He’s safe at No. 50, but every point counts. The better he finishes in the Deutsche Bank, the more progress he makes toward being among the top 30 who reach the Tour Championship. Howell hasn’t made it to East Lake since 2011. Those who reach East Lake get into the Masters, which the Augusta native has not played since 2012.
RYDER CUP IMPLICATIONS: There wouldn’t appear be any. U.S. captain Davis Love III doesn’t make his three picks until after the BMW Championship, and he still has another pick after that. But it’s worth keeping an eye on Jim Furyk, who is No. 84 and tied for 48th. He needs a big round to advance.
Furyk is under consideration for a captain’s pick, in part because he is No. 15 despite losing four months at the start of the year recovering from wrist surgery. But it might be tougher to pick a “hot” player who doesn’t even make it to the third playoff event.