2012 BMW Championship Preview: Rory McIlroy Takes Lead Into 3rd FedEx Cup Event

NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 03: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland holds up the trophy after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 3, 2012 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

McIlroy, Woods, and Watney will be featured together in the opening round.

The third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs tees off on Thursday at the BMW Championship at Crooked Sticks Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. The event gets under way at 12:15 p.m. ET when the trio of Tim Clark, Mark Wilson, and Bryce Molder tee off.

Rory McIlroy takes a sizeable lead into the event that features the top 70 golfers in FedEx Cup points after last week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. McIlroy won that event by one stroke and holds a lead of nearly 1,300 points over second-place golfer Nick Watney.

Tiger Woods lurks closely behind Watney in third place after an 18-under-par tournament at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods finished third last week behind South African Louis Oosthuizen, who climbed 16 spots to fifth place in the FedEx Cup standings with his performance.

Colorado State alum Martin Laird tees off at 2:05 p.m. ET in a grouping with Vijay Singh. McIlroy, Watney, and Woods begin the tournament in a threesome that tees on the back nine at 12:48 p.m. ET.

For more on the BMW Championship and all things golf, visit the SB Nation Golf hub.

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