NORTON, Mass. – For Abraham Ancer of Mexico, a Labor Day finish on the TPC Boston will be his biggest test.
Ancer opened with three straight birdies, had a birdie chance on all but one hole and shot a 6-under 65 on Sunday to take a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Dell Technologies Championship.
Ancer, who has never won on the PGA Tour, showed up at the second FedEx Cup playoff event at No. 92 in the standings, hopeful of getting into the top 70 to keep his season going. A victory would send him to East Lake for the Tour Championship and give him a spot in all four majors.
But one look at the leader board is enough to suggest that 18 holes is a long way off.
Right behind is a player who had the lowest score before the largest gallery at the TPC Boston. That would be Bryson DeChambeau, who played with Tiger Woods for the first time in competition and delivered a 63 to get within one shot of the lead.
Tyrrell Hatton had a shot bounce off a cart and into the woods, never to be found, leading to double bogey. He still managed a 69 and joined DeChambeau one off the lead. They were among 10 players within four shots of the lead, a group that includes major champions Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
“I just know to win I've got to play good,” Ancer said. “There's no way if you play sloppy you're going to win out here. So I know I have to put up a good score out there tomorrow. And I know if I follow my game plan and make some putts, that could happen.”
He was at 13-under 200.
Woods had to settle for a 69 that left him in a tie for 16th, six shots behind. At least he saw plenty of good golf. DeChambeau has become one of his regular practice partners, though they had never been in the same group until Sunday.
DeChambeau opened with two birdies and finished even stronger, with birdie putts on the 16th and 17th, and then a 5-iron from 237 yards that stopped 2 feet from the hole for an eagle.
“He's my childhood idol,” DeChambeau said. “I've admired him my whole entire life. And to be finally able to play with him under tournament conditions, it was different. I was a little nervous, for sure. But I was able to get out there and execute shots and worry about my game and focus on hitting the best shots possible. And I was able to play really well like that.”
DeChambeau has a chance to become the first player since Vijay Singh in 2008 to win the opening two FedEx Cup tournaments. DeChambeau, 24, won the opening Northern Trust in New Jersey last week by four shots over Tony Finau.