Atlanta: The battle for the Tour Championship and FedExCup honours remained intriguingly wide open after Aaron Baddeley and Hunter Mahan charged into a tie for the lead in Saturday`s third round at East Lake Golf Club.
Australian Baddeley fired a best of the day, six-under-par 64 to enhance his claims for a Presidents Cup wildcard pick next week while American Mahan carded a 66, the pair finishing level at nine-under 201.
Australian Jason Day, bidding for his first PGA Tour victory this year, birdied two of the last five holes for a 69 to share third place at seven under with South Korea`s KJ Choi (70).
"I felt like my game was in good order, so I was excited to get out there and shoot a good score," Baddeley told reporters after starting the third round five strokes off the pace.
"Overall, it was a very good day. It was nice to hole some putts." Mahan joined Baddeley at the top of the leaderboard after rolling in a 22-foot birdie putt at the par-three last, pumping his right fist in celebration.
"I`m excited to be in the hunt," Mahan said after mixing five birdies and an eagle with three bogeys on a glorious sun-splashed afternoon. "To birdie 18 was very, very nice.
"I`ve been playing pretty well all week and I feel like I`ve got a good feel for these greens, which is obviously very important.
"Every day, I feel like I`m hitting it a little bit better. Everything feels good. I just have to do it for one more day."
Twice during Saturday`s third round, four players were tied for the lead before Baddeley and Mahan broke clear of the log-jam over the closing stretch.
Australian world number 10 Adam Scott, who had been one stroke ahead of the chasing pack overnight, faded after the turn on the way to a 74 and a tie for ninth at four under.
Every player in the elite field of 30 began the week with a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup, along with its $10 million bonus, with victory on Sunday.
Of those, British world number one Luke Donald was best placed after the third round. The ultra-consistent Englishman, fourth in the FedExCup standings coming into this week, returned a 70 on Saturday to share fifth place at six under with American Bill Haas (69).