Bae tied for lead at Bar­clays as mil­i­tary ser­vice looms

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

Ryan Palmer can’t imag­ine the emo­tions if he were to win The Bar­clays a week af­ter his fa­ther died. Bae Sang­moon would love noth­ing more than to play in the Pres­i­dents Cup at home in South Korea be­fore he starts his manda­tory mil­i­tary ser­vice. Jason Day is one round away from be­ing in the race for No. 1 in the world.

The FedEx Cup play­offs sud­denly are about a lot more than a US$10 mil­lion bonus at the end.

Bae and Day traded birdies through the third round Satur­day at Plain­field Coun­try Club. Their best-ball score would have been 56. On their own, each had a 7-un­der 63 and were tied for the lead go­ing at 11-un­der 199, one shot ahead of Bubba Wat­son (67).

Bae has to start his two-year mil­i­tary stint when he re­turns to South Korea. With a vic­tory on Sun­day, he would be as­sured a spot on the In­ter­na­tional team for the Pres­i­dents Cup, which is be­ing held in his home coun­try for the first time and will be the big­gest golf event in South Korea.

“I have a re­ally tough sit­u­a­tion right now, but I don’t think about it any­more, ac­tu­ally,” he said. “I have to go back. So that is a few weeks later. So I just want to play good golf this week and re­ally want to play Pres­i­dents Cup in my coun­try.”

The emo­tion comes from Palmer, who hasn’t had a top 10 in the last three months. He is play­ing a week af­ter his 71-year-old fa­ther died just north of Amar­illo, Texas, when his SUV over­turned. Palmer has found peace­ful mo­ments on the golf course, and while drop­ping two shots late in his round Satur­day, he had a 65 and was two shots be­hind.

At times, Palmer caught him­self won­der­ing what it would mean to win with a fam­ily griev­ing at home.

“But then I just kind of come back say­ing, ‘OK, let’s just hit this shot, let’s not get too ahead of our­selves yet.’ I don’t know what it’s go­ing to be like if it hap­pens,” Palmer said af­ter a 65. “I can’t put into words what it would mean for sure.”

Day, just like he did on the par 5s at Whistling Straits when he won his first ma­jor two weeks ago, cracked a 343-yard drive down the mid­dle on the 601-yard 16th hole, and then hit a 4-iron to 18 feet and holed it for ea­gle to tie for the lead.

Day and Bae made bo­gey from the rough on the 17th, and both got up-and-down for birdie on the reach­able 18th.

A vic­tory by the 27-year-old Aus­tralian would be his fourth win of the year, ty­ing him with Jor­dan Spi­eth for most on the PGA Tour this year, and al­low him to join the race for No. 1 go­ing into the fi­nal month of the tour sea­son. Spi­eth, who missed the cut, will lose the No. 1 spot to Rory McIl­roy.

Still, Bae might have the most at stake.

He had been able to avoid his manda­tory mil­i­tary ser­vice through his PGA Tour ca­reer un­til it was de­ter­mined that he spent too much time in South Korea last year. He ap­pealed the de­ci­sion at the start of the year, and the mil­i­tary courts ruled a month ago that he had to serve. Bae ac­cepted the de­ci­sion, though he re­mains in Amer­ica to fin­ish out the FedEx Cup. It was not clear when the mil­i­tary ser­vice starts, or if he could even play Oct. 8-11 in the Pres­i­dents Cup.

And if Bae gets to the Tour Cham­pi­onship and cap­tures the FedEx Cup, the US$10 mil­lion might be a sec­ondary award. Bae also would re­ceive a five-year ex­emp­tion, which would come in handy when he re­turns from the mil­i­tary.

The FedEx Cup tro­phy is a long way off. So is the tro­phy for The Bar­clays.

Bri­tish Open cham­pion Zach John­son and Hen­rik Sten­son each had 67 and joined Palmer at 9-un­der 201. For­mer PGA cham­pion Jason Dufner had a 69 and was four shots be­hind. Ten play­ers were sep­a­rated by five shots go­ing into the fi­nal round.

Palmer can only hope for the same sooth­ing feel­ing golf has given him this week. The prob­lems he has had driv­ing the ball seem to have gone away. So has the ir­ri­ta­tion from hit­ting bad shots. Golf has been a refuge this week. His cad­die, James Ed­mond­son, also was close to Palmer’s fa­ther. Ed­mond­son and Palmer’s agent, Mike Chisum, were with him in Amar­illo and all week in New Jersey.

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