Westwood, others tumble down Players leaderboard
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Lee Westwood swung and missed on Moving Day at The Players Championship.
Westwood double-bogeyed two of his first four holes to open the third round Saturday, the first one coming after he whiffed trying to make contact with his second shot that had nestled close to a pine tree. Westwood’s club scraped the tree on his downswing, causing him to miss the ball by at least 6 inches.
He also doubled the par-4 fourth thanks to an errant chip. He was the only golfer to play the first 36 holes at TPC Sawgrass without a bogey.
Thanks to that streak, Westwood started the day at 9-under par — two strokes behind second-round leader Sergio Garcia — but found himself six shots back after a bogey at No. 10.
He wasn’t the only one who fell from the leaderboard during a lightning-delayed round that was eventually halted because of darkness.
Playing partner Kevin Chappell had six bogeys and a birdie through 15 holes, fading from a tie for second to a tie for 26th. Matt Kuchar was 7-under on the first tee, but followed three consecutive bogeys with a double at the par-4 fifth that saw him hit twice from the same bunker. Kuchar shot a 3-over 75 in considerably windier conditions than the first two days at TPC Sawgrass.
Charles Howell III endured an equally disappointing round, bogeying five of his first six holes after starting the round tied for 13th. He rallied a bit, with three birdies on the back, but still ended the day tied for 51st at 1-under.
Westwood, meanwhile, was still on the course when play was halted. He was 6-under with three holes to play in the third round.
MAHAN’S MESS: Hunter Mahan had an unforgettable final four holes in the third round at The Players Championship.
It started with his tee shot getting stuck in a tree at No. 15. He followed that with an eagle at the par-5 16th, a frustrating three-putt bogey at the famed island green and a par on the finishing hole as darkness fell at TPC Sawgrass.
“It was the wildest last four holes,” he said.
Mahan managed a 1-under 71 in a windy round that was delayed by lightning and then later called because of darkness.
But those final four holes stood out — not all for good reasons.
With a storm closing in on TPC Sawgrass, Mahan’s tee shot at 15 got stuck in a tree.
“I had to find my ball up in a tree, make sure it was my ball, identify it, and so we had cameras and stuff,” he said. “And literally when I dropped it, it was just like pine needles and sand and stuff was flying everywhere and it was blowing like crazy. The wind is obviously a little different than what it started out to be today.”
He was hoping the wind would knock his ball out of the tree, but it didn’t happen. His drop came up short and he ended up with a double-bogey.
He got the two strokes back with an eagle, but gave one right back when he left his first putt on No. 17 about 6 feet short.
“The silliest bogey in the world on 17,” Mahan said. “I just didn’t hit it hard enough. I just never got it there. Kind of silly.”
He could have called it quits at that point, but opted to finish the round and avoid an early morning wake-up call Sunday.
“Didn’t see the point of waking up at 5:30,” he said.
LUCKY NO. 13: Chris Stroud had the shot of the day, a hole-in-one at the par-3 13th.
Stroud hit a 6-iron on the 188-yard hole and then watched it disappear. He had no idea it went in, but he figured it was pretty good based on the reaction of a few friends and family members standing near the green.
“We could only see the top of the flag,” Stroud said. “We just heard everybody getting louder and louder. It is cool. It’s only my seventh hole-in-one, and you don’t get to have many hole-in-ones very often. Actually, it’s my first one on the PGA Tour in regulation play.”
DIVOTS: After having seven bogey-free rounds during the first two days at The Players, there were none in the third round Saturday. ... Four groups and eight players remained on the Stadium Course when play was halted because of darkness. They will resume the third round at 7:10 a.m. Sunday. It was the second time in three years that the third round was delayed. ... Three of the top four players on leaderboard — Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008) and Tiger Woods (2001) — are past champions of the event.