Reed takes 1-shot lead at FedEx Cup opener

Associated Press

Patrick Reed approaches the fourth green Saturday during the Northern Trust tournament at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, N.J.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Patrick Reed handled the strong gusts and a Liberty National course starting to dry out with a 4-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead over Abraham Ancer of Mexico going into the final round of The Northern Trust.

Reed has not won since the 2018 Masters, though it hasn't been a lack of trying. He has played 41 times worldwide since his major victory, including a pair of team events. He says he is getting closer and just needs some good scores, and he has them this week.

"It's close and it feels good," Reed said. "Feels like this has been coming for some time, and now it's just go out and stick to the game plan tomorrow and hopefully Sunday we have a chance to win the golf tournament."

Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, playing in the final group, faltered.

Johnson, twice a winner of this FedEx Cup playoffs opener, didn't make a birdie until the 10th hole, and then saw his round fall apart with four bogeys over the last six holes for a 74 that dropped him five shots behind.

Spieth began his round by hitting his tee shot into the water, lost ground and momentum with a sloppy double bogey -- his first of the week -- from the fairway on No. 7 and recorded only two birdies in his round of 74. It was his second straight Saturday swoon, and this one could be costly. He is No. 69 in the FedEx Cup, and a strong finish this week could help salvage his season with a trip to East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale.

He still has one round left and a big crowd in front of him.

Reed was at 14-under 199 and will be paired in the final group with Ancer, who had a 68 as he tries to deliver good golf at the right time.

Ancer, who won the Australian Open late last year, is No. 67 in the FedEx Cup. The top 70 advance to the BMW Championship next week at Medinah, but a good finish could sew up a spot in the Tour Championship and make him eligible for all the majors next year.

There's more. He is No. 10 in the Presidents Cup standings, and Sunday could go a long way in returning to Australia as part of the International team.

"The only thing I have to worry about is still play some good golf tomorrow and that will take care of itself," Ancer said. "I'm trying not to think about that that much. I know it's there and I obviously think about it, but I'm just focusing on trying to do everything I can to just play a good, solid round tomorrow."

A dozen players were separated by five shots going into the final round.

Brandt Snedeker had a pair of eagles in his round of 63 that left him two shots behind, along with Jon Rahm of Spain, who had a 69. Justin Rose was among those another shot behind, with Rory McIlroy finishing with two birdies over his last three holes for a 70 to get within four shots of the lead.

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