Barring a collapse of cataclysmic proportions, Tiger Woods will wrap up the inaugural FedEx Cup title and the $10 million retirement bonus that goes with it today. But to finish completely satisfied, he'll have to hold off the only man in the field who competed in the first Tour Championship 20 years ago.
Mark Calcavecchia, 47, shot 63 on Saturday to earn a place in the final pairing with Woods, who shot another 64 to get to 19-under par and maintain the three-shot lead he started the day with at East Lake Golf Club.
"If you made a bunch of pars you were going to get run over," said Woods, who matched his highest round of the week at 6-under.
That was certainly the case as rain-softened East Lake continued to get assaulted by the elite 30-man field. The top eight players on the leaderboard shot a combined 46-under par on Saturday. Reigning Masters Tournament champion Zach Johnson settled for a course-record 60 with a par on the 18th hole while former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy shot 62.
"When you get greens this soft and pins this easy and greens this slow, you're going to have to make a bunch of birdies," Woods said.
With Woods' nearest threat to the FedEx Cup title, Phil Mickelson, sitting 13 strokes behind, the only thing left to be settled is the tournament winner. Considering he's 0-5 at East Lake and twice lost the 54-hole lead here, Woods has a little something to prove today.
"If I lose the tournament and win the FedEx Cup, I don't think I'm going to be too happy really that I've lost the tournament," he said.
Woods was coasting along at a reasonable clip Saturday - 4-under through 14 holes - when he got caught by the oldest guy in the field playing directly in front of him. Woods, 31, watched from the fairway as Calcavecchia sank a 17-foot eagle put on No. 15 to pull into a share of the lead, and he laughed.
Woods subsequently birdied 15 and 16 while Calcavecchia made bogey on 16 to set the margin.
Calcavecchia would seem to be the least likely player in the field to track Woods down. Before the tournament started, Calcavecchia joked that while Woods could run from the course to downtown Atlanta, he couldn't run out of a burning building. Now the 1989 British Open champion is the only player within five strokes of the world's No. 1 golfer and paired with him on Sunday for the first time.
"It's a round of golf with Tiger Woods," said Calcavecchia. "It's where you want to be. It's a good spot to be in. ... There's a possibility this could be the last time I'll play with him in the last group on Sunday, so I'd better have a good time."
Johnson had a good time Saturday. Adding to his greatest hits list of things that happen to him in Georgia, the reigning Masters and AT&T Classic winner surged up the leaderboard as he nearly reached golf's most magical number - 59.
Johnson didn't think about the mark until an eagle on 15 had him 9-under for the day. A birdie from the fairway bunker on 17 gave him the opportunity to make birdie on the par-3 18th to become the fourth PGA Tour player to break 60.
Johnson hit into the greenside bunker and nearly holed the 50-foot sand shot. He nervously tapped in his 2-footer for 60, leaving in fourth place a shot behind Sergio Garcia and six behind Woods.