OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Baltimore delivered a big crowd for its first PGA Tour stop in nearly 60 years, and Bryson DeChambeau delivered a big dose of entertainment.
That covered a lot of territory Saturday at the BMW Championship.
DeChambeau had back-to-back eagles with sheer strength and a remarkable touch with the putter. And then he had consecutive holes with shots into the water that cost him a four-shot lead.
“It was definitely colorful,” DeChambeau said.
He had to settle for a share of the lead with Patrick Cantlay, whose classic style and unwavering patience in the wake of DeChambeau's wild ride worked equally well.
So crazy was this action that DeChambeau went from a one-shot deficit to a three-shot lead in the span of two holes with his long eagle putts, only for Cantlay to go from a four-shot deficit to a one-shot lead in two holes on the back nine with his birdies and DeChambeau's blunders.
DeChambeau steadied himself over the final three holes for a 5-under 67. Cantlay didn't drop a shot until the final hole when he drove into deep rough and an 8-foot par putt caught the left side of the hole. His lone bogey gave him a 66.
“It was another day on an easy, soft golf course, so you needed to make a bunch of birdies. I thought I played really well, all in all. I didn’t make too many mistakes," he said. “I thought it was a good day and I'm in a good spot for tomorrow.”
They were at 21-under 195, and Sunday had the trappings of a two-man race.
Sungjae Im birdied his last two holes for a 66 and was three shots behind. The group four shots back included Rory McIlroy, who had a bogey-free 65 and only made up two shots on the lead.
Crisp-hitting Abraham Ancer of Mexico (66), Sam Burns (65) and Sergio Garcia (67) also were in the group four shots behind.
The biggest disappointment belonged to Jon Rahm, the world's No. 1 player, who had three bogeys and no birdies over the last six holes and shot 70.
He fell five shots behind. That's not typically a massive deficit, it just seems like one on a course where birdies are available to everyone at any time.
Rahm was doing his best to keep up, three shots behind, when he missed the 13th green to the left for bogey, missed the fairway to the right on the 14th for another bogey and had to settle for par on the par-5 16th. He closed with a bogey from the fairway bunker.
On this course, on this day, that meant losing ground quickly.
Then again, momentum and position changed without notice.
Cantlay was one shot ahead early with an eagle on the par-5 second hole — DeChambeau's shot into the green hit a sprinkler pin-high in the collar and shot over the green into shaggy grass in a hazard that led to par — and matching birdies into the par-3 third.
All it took was two holes for Cantlay to fall three behind without doing anything wrong.
This was all about DeChambeau, who charged up the sun-baked gallery with a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fourth hole and then drove onto the front of the green on the 322-yard fifth and made a 55-foot putt that looked good when it was halfway to the hole.
At that point, it looked like a runaway on a Caves Valley course suited perfectly to him with soft conditions and wide fairways. Even the errant shots turned out well.
He hit one drive so far left down the hill at No. 8 that DeChambeau had to walk some 30 yards back to the fairway because he couldn't find a sprinkler with a yardage on it. He hit that to 30 feet and made the birdie, stretching his lead to four shots.
And then it all changed. The mud on his ball contributed to a wild shot to the right and into the water, turning certain birdie on the par-5 12th into bogey and a two-shot swing when Cantlay got up-and-down from just off the green for birdie.
DeChambeau's tee shot on the par-3 13th found the water, which led to double bogey and a three-shot swing when Cantlay holed a 35-foot birdie putt.
DeChambeau was mostly concerned about some of his wild tee shots, even the ones that didn't cost him. Something went awry on No. 7, and he went in search of answers on the practice range after the round.
“If I can get that straightened out like I did the first few days and off the tee the first couple holes today, I’ll give myself a great chance again,” he said.
Sunday has more than just the trophy at stake. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup advance to the final event at the Tour Championship next week. Garcia was poised to moved into the top 30 with Hudson Swafford and Erik van Rooyen among those lurking.
Patrick Reed was home in Houston recovering from bilateral pneumonia. He needed a lot to go right to stay in the top 30 and has a more reasonable chance than at the start of the week.
As for the Ryder Cup, Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele dropped out of the top 30 at Caves Valley, and Cantlay could grab the sixth and final automatic spot only if he were to win.