Reed 1 Up on Ancer in Northern Trust

Patrick Reed is winless since the 2018 Masters and has struggled much of this season, but seems to have regained the game that made him a major champion at Augusta National.

The 29-year-old Reed shot 4-under-par 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Abraham Ancer of Mexico heading to the final round of The Northern Trust, the FedEx Cup playoff opener, at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

“The biggest thing is that I have been hitting the ball so well that it’s freed up my putter,” said Reed, who took a break after missing the cut in the PGA Championship and has recorded five straight top-25 finishes. “Earlier this season, I thought I was played well but wasn’t producing the numbers I wanted.

“I was thinking too much, so then I took three weeks off to reset and it paid off. I realized I was a lot closer to playing well than the results were showing. I was able to sit down clearly think and talk it through my team what–we’re doing, what’s good, what’s not, what we need to fix. From that point, we had a very clear picture and path to move on to.

“It’s just awesome to finally be in that position back again where I’m contending on Sunday and have a chance to win the golf tournament.”

Reed, who has won six times on the PGA Tour and started the week at No. 50 in the FedEx Cup point standings, made his first bogey of the tournament on the 15th hole, but leads the way at 14-under 199 after 54 holes.

The top 70 players in the FedEx Cup the point standings will advance to the BMW Championship next week at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, with the top 30 reaching the Tour Championship the following week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Ancer, who is 67th in the standings has won twice as a pro but not on the PGA Tour, took the lead with four straight birdies on the back nine before falling back with bogey at No. 16 in a 68 as Reed made a late birdie.

Brandt Snedeker, the 2012 FedEx Cup champion, made eagle putts of 12 feet on the sixth hole and four feet on the eighth en route to a 63 that was low round of the day, and is two shots back in a tie for third with seventh-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who is 10th in the standings.

“It was one of those days when my good shots were really good and I was able to get away with a few that were not so good,” said Snedeker, who has nine PGA Tour victories. “You have to take advantage of those days and shoot a good score, and I was able to post a good one today.

“I’ve been putting well for about three weeks, but they just haven’t been going into the hole. I didn’t make any putts the first two days, but I knew things were about to click, and it was nice to see the ball start going in the hole today.

“I’m 33rd in points, so I need a good finish tomorrow to make sure I get to East Lake.”

Danny Willett of England, the 2017 Masters champion, totaled 66 and is another stroke back in a tie for fifth with fourth-ranked Justin Rose of England, the defending FedEx Cup winner who had a 69, and Harold Varner III, who finished at 68.

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy, the 2016 FedEx Cup champion, made two late birdies to salvage a 70 and is four down in a tie for eighth with Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the 2010 Open champion at St. Andrews, who also had a 68.

Second-ranked Dustin Johnson, the 36-hole leader, struggled to a 74 and is another shot behind in a tie for 10th with first-round leader Troy Merritt, who finished at 70, and Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, who came in at 67.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 FedEx Cup champion, shot 74 alongside Johnson and is tied for 13th, while ninth-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, totaled 71 and is a tie for 17th at includes 2014 FedEx Cup champ Billy Horschel, who totaled 67.

Jim Furyk, the 2010 FedEx Cup winner, posted a 69 and is in a tie for 24th that includes 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who had a 70, and defending Northern Trust champion and ninth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, who came in at 71.

Top-ranked Brooks Koepka, who leads the point standings, is tied for 35th after a 72, Phil Mickelson is tied for 73rd after a 75, and sixth-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy also had a 75 and is tied for 75th.

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