|-13 L Westwood (English); -11 B DeChambeau (United States); -ten J Thomas (United States), D Ghim (United States); -9 P Casey (Eng), J Rahm (Spa), B Harman (United States)|
|Selection of others:-8 S Garcia (Spa); Mr. Fitzpatrick (English); -4 J Spieth (United States); Level Dr. Johnson (United States)|
Lee Westwood will face Bryson DeChambeau again as the Englishman takes a two-time lead on the final day of the players’ championship.
Westwood, chasing a first PGA Tour title in 11 years, dropped to 13 under par with a four-under of 68 without a bogey.
DeChambeau, who beat Westwood to win the Arnold Palmer InvitationaLast week I shot a 67 to finish 11 cents on a scintillating day at TPC Sawgrass.
Justin Thomas had put the club head to 10 under par with a superb 64.
England’s Paul Casey, world number two Jon Rahm and American Brian Harman are a little further behind.
Matt Fitzpatrick headed in the final pair alongside compatriot Westwood, but endured a tough day, finding the water three times and trading four birdies with four bogeys to stay eight under.
He sits alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who missed the last hole to score a 71 on day three.
Westy v Bryson – The Rematch
Westwood hasn’t won the PGA Tour since June 2010 at the St. Jude Classic, in a form race that saw him become the number one golfer in the world.
After finishing second at Bay Hill last week, the veteran is well positioned to end this drought and continue a hot streak that started last year, winning the European Tour Order of Merit title for the third time in December, becoming the longest-serving Race to Dubai champion. .
The Englishman may be 48 next month but he is starting to forge an unlikely rivalry with the big shot DeChambeau, a player 20 years his junior.
Despite their contrasting styles, the pair will face off on the PGA Tour for the second week in a row when they head into Sunday’s final group in Florida.
“It’s like revenge,” smiled Westwood. “It’ll be fun. I love playing with Bryson, it’s a breath of fresh air.
“I’ve always tried to have fun, but it’s easier now – I don’t allow golf to affect me mentally anymore.”
Westwood started the first clear day and had chances to increase their lead over the top nine, but several birdie chances were missed.
With Thomas, Casey, DeChambeau and Ghim all making moves, Westwood found his lineup after the turn and birdies at 10 and 11 kept him top of the table.
DeChambeau continued his recent form as he went down to five cents for the day after 12 holes, showcasing his touch around the green, before leaving a downed bunker in the 14th and carding his only bogey of the day.
The US Open champion, who said he fine-tuned his swing overnight, responded with a well-done birdie at 16 and was relieved to make a bet on the latter.
“I’m absolutely happy today was the best hitting day I have had all week,” said DeChambeau. “I came here with a new idea and it worked, it was great.
“Love it, Westy is a fierce contender and I can’t wait to take on the challenge with him.”
With DeChambeau back in the clubhouse, Westwood birdieed in the 16th par-five and rolled into another at the dangerous par-three on the 17th island to mark his second round without a bogey in succession.
Thomas gets back in shape on the third day
World number three Thomas flew out of the blocks with four birdies in a row and recovered from a bogey at five recovering another stroke at seven.
The American carded successive birdies after the turn, then made a sensational eagle in the 16th par-five, slapping six inches after a wonderful approach.
“I’m excited. That’s why I’m playing. I’ve been working to get back into contention,” Thomas said after setting the pace for the club.
The Spaniard Rahm is also well placed at nine under after six birdies on Saturday, with his only flaw in the 10th par-four.
England’s Casey, who managed the second, saved a back nine that had witnessed three bogeys with his sixth birdie of the day on the last to also sit at nine under par.
“The birdie on 18 was important,” said Casey, who added, “I saw the pin position on 17 for tomorrow. Look at it. It’s going to be carnage!”
One of the stories of this year’s Players Championship was the emergence of Ghim, the 24-year-old American, former world number one amateur.
The world number 257 briefly led Sawgrass on his own, but eventually finished three on pace after a four-under of 68.
Australia’s Cameron Smith put in a stunning seven-under 65 earlier today, leaving him six shots behind, while world number one Dustin Johnson found the water at 17 in a tied round which leaves him at the same level for the tournament.