Paul Casey moves two clear in Tour Championship
Last Updated: 25/09/17 1:35am
Paul Casey put himself in pole position to win the Tour Championship as he claimed a two-shot lead after the third round in Atlanta.
The Englishman can also scoop the $10m bonus for topping the FedEx Cup standings if he hangs on to claim victory at East Lake on Sunday.
Casey carded a five-under 65 to move to 12-under 198, although his grip on the tournament could have been even stronger had he built on a majestic start to the day, which saw him play the opening seven holes in five under and move four shots clear of the field.
The 40-year-old faltered mid-round but recovered well by playing some solid golf on the back nine to enter the clubhouse two ahead of American duo Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed are tied for fourth place three shots further back on seven under.
World No 16 Casey, who has had 15 top-five finishes without claiming a win in the last three years, was tied for the lead with Thomas and Webb Simpson on seven under overnight, and it was the latter who nosed ahead first with a birdie on the second.
That took Simpson to eight under but he was quickly joined on that mark by Casey - following a birdie at the third - Thomas, Jason Day and rookie Schauffele, with Kisner then replacing Day after the Australian bogeyed the eighth.
The logjam at the top of the leaderboard was broken when Casey birdied the fifth and he powered three clear following a textbook eagle at the par-five sixth.
Casey's confidence was now high and he almost holed his approach shot to the par-four seventh before tapping in for a birdie to go 12 under.
His dream run quickly came to an end, though, as he found a tricky position in a greenside bunker at the eighth which led to a bogey, and he fell victim to the sand again at the par-three ninth as he overshot the green from a bunker and took two to get down.
Meanwhile, Kisner was continuing his charge through the field as he chipped in from just off the green for his seventh birdie of the day at the par-four 14th to join Casey on 10 under.
US Open champion Koepka made it a three-way tie for the lead with a birdie of his own on the 14th before Casey regained control by holing a 15-footer for a birdie at the 11th.
After five successive pars, Casey doubled his advantage in style by nailing a 40-foot birdie putt at the 17th although he could only par the last after finding sand with his second shot.
When asked what his approach to the final round would now be, Casey told Sky Sports: "Keep doing what I've been doing. Hopefully tear up that front nine and if you have to react because somebody has gone bananas or I haven't made enough birdies on the front, then you do that on the back."
Casey, who has yet to meet his new baby daughter Astaria, added. "I want the win, I want my name on the trophy here at East Lake. My last round here last year was a 64 and I'd take a 64 tomorrow.
"The cool thing is that I'll be playing in the final group with Kisner and we've both just had children. My little girl was born on September 11 and his boy I think a couple of days prior to that.
"I won a week after Lex (his son) was born at the KLM Open so, although this tournament is the most important thing tomorrow, there are more important things away from the course."
Kisner missed a number of further birdie chances over the closing holes and had to settle for a six-under 64, while Koepka fell away with three bogeys in the final four holes for a 68.
Schauffele, 23, who had leapt into contention with an eagle on the sixth, made stealthy progress on the back nine and a birdie at the 18th saw him sign for a 65 and join Kisner in second place on 10 under.
PGA champion Thomas came unstuck on the sixth, which he bogeyed after a horror drive, and he also suffered on the back nine with a double bogey on the 14th before hitting back with birdies at the 16th and 18th for a level-par 70.
Day played the front nine in just 31 but failed to make any inroads on the back nine with a double bogey at the 16th, following a wayward drive, dropping him back to six under with a 68.
Spain's Jon Rahm is also on six under after shooting a level-par 70 which featured four birdies and four bogeys.
England's Justin Rose began the round just one off the lead but, unusually for him, played some inconsistent golf as he mixed five birdies with six bogeys for a one-over 71 to slip to five under, where he was joined by Simpson, whose 72 included three successive bogeys from the 14th.
FedEx Cup leader Jordan Spieth also played some ragged golf over the first 11 holes with three bogeys and just one birdie, but he clicked into gear in the closing stages of his round with birdies at 13, 15 and 17 to complete the course in one-under 69 to move to four under, the same score as world No 1 Dustin Johnson (69).
Spieth, Johnson, Rahm, Thomas and the out-of-contention Marc Leishman are all assured of winning the $10m bonus if they win this week, but Casey, who is ranked 10th in the FedEx Cup standings, will hope to keep them at bay down the leaderboard on Sunday and remain ahead himself in order to land the jackpot.
If Casey does win the tournament he will require Spieth to finish fifth or worse, Thomas to finish in a three-way tie for third or worse, Johnson to finish in a three-way tie for second or worse, Leishman to finish tied for second or worse and Rahm to finish second or worse.
Watch the final round of the Tour Championship live on Sky Sports Golf, coverage continues on Sunday from 5.30pm