NORTON, Mass. — Sergio Garcia was doing everything right. He had the lead going into the third round. He kept bogeys off his card and made two birdies on the front nine.
And he was losing ground Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"You could make a lot of birdies if everything went exactly the right way, kind of like it went on the back nine for me," Garcia said. "But you have to be patient and just wait for the right time."
Garcia regained control on the back nine of the rain-softened TPC Boston, making five birdies for a 6-under 65 that gave him a two-shot lead over Henrik Stenson. Garcia hit 4-iron from 218 yards onto the 18th green for a two-putt birdie as darkness settled over New England on this longest of days.
But nothing is close to being settled at this FedEx Cup playoff event.
Not with such a soft course, with preferred lies, with mint conditions on the putting surfaces and the world's best players — most of them, anyway — in top form. There were 332 birdies and 10 eagles in the third round, translating to sub-par holes 32 percent of the time.
"There's heaps of low scores out there," Stenson said after his 66. "You have to keep making birdies if you want to have anything to do with this tournament. Today was no different. It's going to be the same tomorrow. I'm sure everyone is coming at us from all different angles."
Tee times have been moved up to this morning because of the threat of more rain.
Garcia was at 19-under 194, though the Spaniard isn't great at protecting the 54-hole lead. His record is 3-7 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the last day. And this Labor Day figures to live up to its name. It will take hard work to stay there.
Graham DeLaet of Canada all but locked up a spot on the Presidents Cup team with a 62 that left him three shots behind with Steve Stricker, who had a 63 and took a big step toward making the U.S. team for the matches next month at Muirfield Village.
PGA champion Jason Dufner had a share of the lead until cooling off on the back nine. He had a 66 and was tied for fifth at 15-under 198 with Robert Castro (68).
About the only ones who couldn't keep up were the star attractions at the start of the week — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson, who started the third round five shots out of the lead, had his second straight 71, and this one wasn't exciting at all. He had three birdies, three bogeys, 12 pars and wound up 12 shots behind.
Woods didn't get anything going early and fell apart on the back nine, starting with a tee shot into a hazard well right of the 10th fairway. He began the back nine with three straight bogeys and ended with a three-putt par on the 18th for a 1-over 72. It ended six straight rounds in the 60s in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and much worse, left him with no chance of winning going into the off week. He was 13 shots back.
"I just didn't have it today," Woods said. "I just didn't hit it well. I didn't make anything. I had a bad day at the wrong time."
The average score was 68.2, and anything higher than that meant losing ground.
"We can't control the weather," Garcia said. "And you've just got to go out there and try to play the best you can. And I was very happy to see that my best was 6-under."
Hotel Fitness Championship
At Fort Wayne, Ind., Trevor Immelman rallied to win the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills to lock up a PGA Tour card in the Web.com Tour Finals opener.
Immelman, the South African who won the 2008 Masters, made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke victory over Patrick Cantlay.
Cantlay, three strokes ahead entering the round, had a chance to force a playoff, but missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th. He finished with a 72.
At Portland, Suzann Pettersen won the Safeway Classic for the second time in three years, taking advantage of playing partner Yani Tseng's final-round collapse at Columbia Edgewater.
Three strokes behind leader Tseng entering the round, Pettersen closed with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over second-ranked Stacy Lewis.
The 32-year-old Norwegian finished at 20-under 268 for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year and 12th overall. She won the 2011 tournament at Pumpkin Ridge.
Tseng followed her third-round 63 with a 78 to tie for ninth at 12 under. The Taiwanese star is winless in 37 events since the Kia Classic in March 2012.
Shaw Charity Classic
At Calgary, Alberta, Rocco Mediate ran away with the inaugural Shaw Charity Classic for his second victory in 17 starts in his first Champions Tour season.
The 50-year-old Mediate, the Allianz Championship winner in February in his first Champions Tour start, closed with a 7-under 64 at tree-lined Canyon Meadows for a seven-stroke victory.
At Newport, Wales, France's Gregory Bourdy birdied the last three holes for a 4-under 67 and a two-stroke victory over American Peter Uihlein in the Wales Open.