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FedEx Cup: Henrik Stenson retains Tour Championship lead despite lapses

updated 5:56 PM EDT, Sat September 21, 2013
Tour Championship leader Henrik Stenson struggled to cope as wet weather hit the field during Saturday's third round.
Tour Championship leader Henrik Stenson struggled to cope as wet weather hit the field during Saturday's third round.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Henrik Stenson holds four-shot lead at PGA Tour's season-ending tournament
  • Swedish golfer had led by nine at Tour Championship but struggled as rain fell
  • He is hoping to hold on for victory on Sunday to win $10 million FedEx Cup prize
  • Americans Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker are his closest challengers

(CNN) -- If Henrik Stenson fails to hold his advantage at the Tour Championship and misses out on a $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot, then the Swede will no doubt look to a potentially costly second half of his third round on Saturday.

He ended 54 holes with the same four-shot lead he had at the halfway stage of the PGA Tour's season-ending tournament, but it could have been a lot more.

The 37-year-old led by nine after four birdies on the outward leg, but gave them back as he carded four bogeys -- two of them at the last three holes -- to give chasing Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker hope of victory on Sunday.

Stenson had the worst of the conditions as the predicted rain, which prompted organizers to start the day earlier than scheduled, finally came down at Atlanta's East Lake course.

FedEx Cup standings

1. Tiger Woods

2. Henrik Stenson

3. Adam Scott

4. Zach Johnson

5. Matt Kuchar

6. Steve Stricker

7. Graham DeLaet

8. Phil Mickelson

9. Justin Rose

10. Brandt Snedeker

Read: Stenson stretches lead, Woods wilts

"I think I'll choose to look at it from the bright side, even though the weather is not that bright at the moment," Stenson told reporters after signing for a one-under-par 69 that put him on 11-under 199 overall.

"Started the day with a four-shot lead and I still got it. So that's all that matters really.

"I can't really complain that it was any tougher for me than for anybody else. When you lose a little bit of momentum ... it's just hard to find your rhythm again when you're kind of jumping in and out from underneath an umbrella and trying to whack it to get back in underneath again."

Johnson shot 67, with just one bogey at 14, and has an outside chance of winning the playoffs jackpot if he can overhaul Stenson and land the $1.44 million tournament prize.

Read: Leading the way for golf's multimillionaires

"I'm going to just go out, do whatever I can to win the golf tournament or to put some pressure on Henrik and see what happens," said the American, who needs Stenson to drop to 15th place and have world No. 1 Tiger Woods finish last in the 30-man field if he is to pull it off.

"If I keep driving it straight, then I'm going to give him a run tomorrow," Johnson added.

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Stricker was in third place, six shots behind Stenson after carding five birdies and three bogeys in his 68.

The 46-year-old American could win the FedEx Cup if he finishes second at East Lake -- as long as Stenson drops below ninth, with Zach Johnson lower than seventh.

Johnson, who earned a shot at a major payday by winning the third of the four playoff events last week, was tied for fourth on 206 with fellow U.S. golfers Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth, plus England's U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

He can still scoop the pot without winning the tournament, if he finishes second and Deutsche Bank Championship winner Stenson is third.

Read: Is golf driving the U.S. economy?

FedEx Cup leader Woods, meanwhile, beat par for the first time this week as he carded 69 to be tied for 26th -- 13 shots behind Stenson.

"I didn't hit it very good today," he said. "I hit everything to the right or flipped it left, but I putted better.

"The goal is to go out and shoot a low round tomorrow and see where the chips fall."

Woods' main rival for the PGA Tour player of the year award, Adam Scott, dropped down the leaderboard to a tie for 10th following a 74.

The Masters champion needed IV fluid treatment before teeing off due to severe illness.

"Pretty disappointed, because I felt like I could have made a run today," the Australian said. "When your body is feeling so lethargic and heavy, the club feels like it weighs 60 pounds. And it was just hard work to get anything moving."

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