LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Steve Stricker reduced his schedule this season but never lowered his expectations. He saw no reason why he couldn't continue to play at a high level, even as a 46-year-old part-timer teeing it up, on average, once every three weeks on the PGA Tour.
"Consistency is what I kind of pride myself on," he said, "and I figured I could continue to do that even playing a limited schedule."
It wouldn't work for everybody. It has worked like a charm for Stricker.
On Saturday, the Madison, Wis., resident fired a 7-under-par 64 at Conway Farms Golf Club and moved into second place, one shot behind leader Jim Furyk, going into the final round of the BMW Championship.
He started the week in eighth place on the FedEx Cup points list and would move up to No. 4 with a second-place finish here.
The top five in the points have control of their destinies at the season-ending Tour Championship next week. A victory at East Lake would make any one of them the FedEx Cup champion, regardless of what any of the other 29 players do.
But Stricker isn't thinking about any of that. He's focused on trying to win his 13th career title Sunday. The points will sort themselves out.
"I won't pay attention to that part so much as trying to play a good round tomorrow and getting right there in the thick of things and having a chance coming down the stretch," he said. "So that's what I'm going to be paying attention to tomorrow. And then all that other stuff kind of takes care of itself."
Furyk, coming off the sixth 59 in PGA Tour history in the second round, shot a solid 69 and was at 13-under 200 through 54 holes. Stricker was at 201 and Brandt Snedeker (71) was in third alone at 202.
"I think it's always difficult, even if you shoot a 62 or 63, to follow that up with a low number," Furyk said. "It probably took me a few holes to really get in the flow out there and feel good.
"I made a couple mental errors on the front nine . . . . but I felt like I played a very, very good nine holes of golf on the way in."
Furyk birdied Nos. 10, 11 and 15 and had a two-shot lead over a charging Stricker until he bogeyed the par-5 18th with a three-putt.
"Giving up one there was disappointing," he said. "But I've got myself in good position so rather than harp on the last hole I'd probably tend to want to think about tomorrow and what I have to do to try to win a golf tournament."
Furyk and Stricker are scheduled to tee off last at 12:40 p.m. The forecast calls for a high of 61 and a 70 percent chance of rain.
"The weather is going to be an issue, I imagine, from what I've heard and seen," Stricker said.
The only issue he had Saturday was an "over-cooked" 4-iron on the 210-yard 17th that slammed into the grandstand, rebounded 30 yards short of the green and led to his only bogey.
Otherwise, he played almost flawless golf.
He missed only one fairway, hit 13 greens in regulation and was second in the field of 70 in the strokes gained-putting category (he's No. 1 for the week).
Stricker birdied Nos. 4, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 18 and eagled the short par-4 15th when he holed a sand wedge from 99 yards. His ball went into the cup on the fly and he seemed almost startled when it disappeared, turning to caddie Jimmy Johnson as if to say, "Did I see what I just saw?"
"I've holed out a few wedges over my career, but I don't know if any of them slam-dunked like that," he said. "It's a shock to see something like that go in. The line obviously looked good but distance-wise you never know where it's really going to come down, and to see it just disappear and hear the clank of the pin is kind of a shock."
Stricker has three runner-up finishes and six top-10s in 11 starts this year, three fewer than anyone else in the 70-player field. He's second in scoring average, second in greens in regulation, fourth in birdie average and seventh in driving accuracy. He's made 23 consecutive cuts.
"I thought I could continue to play well," he said. "Nothing was changing on that end of it. But to be in the position I'm in now, being in the top 10, being in contention here . . . we've still got a day left but it's exciting to be a part of it."
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