Saturday is Moving Day on the PGA Tour. Early in Round 3 of the 3M Open much of the moving Keith Mitchell did was walking in birdie putts right to the hole.
Again and again and again.
Mitchell tied a Tour record by starting his round with seven consecutive birdies, a stretch that was part ball-striking (he hit every green in regulation) and part dead-eye putting (three over 10 feet, including a 30-foot bomb on his second hole).
The path toward shooting a 59 — heck, maybe lower — was definitely laid out.
"Oh, absolutely," Mitchell said. "It was like, 'If I keep swinging like this and executing like this, we're going to have a chance.'
"I actually felt some nerves a little bit," he continued. "But they were good nerves. Not like the 'hope I don't miss the cup' nerves or 'where do we stand on the FedExCup?' nerves. It's more of like, 'Hey, I'm in contention again and I want to play well' nerves, and those are the good kind, those are the fun kind."
Just as quickly as Mitchell's scores bumped him up the leaderboard — at one point he held the lead alone at 11 under — he fell back to the pack.
Mitchell's birdie run ended when he missed a 22-footer by 18 inches on the par-3 17th. He two-putted for par on the par-5 18th, then made bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3. Six consecutive pars followed and he signed for a 6-under 66. He'll begin the final round four shots behind the leader.
"I feel like it's two completely different rounds," he said. "I couldn't miss on the first seven holes, and all I was trying to do was just give myself opportunities on the back nine and it just wasn't happening."
If at first you don't succeed ...
Gary Woodland will start Sunday at 11 under, one shot back of the lead. Six strokes into Saturday that looked like quite the long shot.
Woodland misjudged his second shot from the first cut of rough and wound up in a greenside bunker. With little green to work with, he again endured a mishit and flew the green, leaving him more than double the distance away from the cup. It led to a double bogey.
He trudged to the second hole with the first out of sight and out of mind.
Woodland birdied five of the next six and added one more at No. 16. More important, he made no further bogeys to cap off a 4-under 67.
"I had a lot of confidence with a good warmup, so that's what I told myself on No. 2," Woodland said. "And I hit a great drive on No. 2 and really got momentum going and played solid all day."
Just win, baby?
At 115th in the standings, Pat Perez at the moment has enough FedEx Cup points to earn an invitation to the PGA Tour playoffs kickoff event, The Northern Trust, in four weeks. And Saturday's 5-under 66 put him into a tie for fourth place in Blaine and in prime position to gain even more of a points cushion.
And if he doesn't, there's one heck of a consolation prize.
Perez and his wife, Ashley, are close to welcoming their second child. How close?
"Scheduled Thursday of the first playoff [event]," Perez said. "So I'm kind of in a Catch-22. If I don't play well, then I'm going to be home for the birth. If I play well, I kind of have to miss it, I think. It's kind of a weird deal ... but we are very excited for the boy to come."