Simpson extends Players lead to 7 shots

So, this place - Ponte Vedra and TPC Sawgrass - and this tournament - THE PLAYERS Championship - hold a special place in Paul's heart, and with a five-shot lead going into the third round of the tournament, emotions are running high.

The best scores in the third round came from Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, who each carded 65s to climb from just off the cutline to into a tie for ninth at 208, 11 shots off Simpson's lead.

"It's a lovely course in that there are birdie holes out there, but you can make bogeys or double bogeys just as easy".

Schwartzel said he was getting the club too far behind, and he could never get it back on line. He blasted to 8 feet but couldn't convert.

Woods pointed to his tee shot at the 242-yard, par-3 eighth, which landed a little more than 30 feet from the hole; his second shot at the par-5 ninth, which stopped on the fringe from almost 270 yards out; and his towering approach shot at the par-5 11th, which carried two bunkers and part of a pond before landing on the putting surface and leaving him a lengthy eagle putt.

But Simpson didn't back off with another shot he wasn't planning to make, atonement on the island-green 17th and a four-under 68 that stretched his lead to a record seven shots over second-placed Lee.

The sand wedge in the water on the 17th ruined his round, but not his day.

With a 19-under total of 197, former US Open victor Simpson matched Norman's 1994 effort. "It's kind of frustrating, because I'm close on a course that hasn't really yielded special results for me recently". He will be in the final round.

"It was just incredible", said Spieth, who played with McIlroy and Thomas.

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A bogey at the 14th and four subsequent pars dulled hope of a course record but Woods was purring when assessing his morning's work. As it is, they each trail by 11 strokes.

At least he had a chance to make it, as the much-hyped group of Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler fizzled.

No player on the PGA Tour has lost a tournament when leading by seven going into the final round. "So, it shows you where it actually matters and that's on the greens". 23-under through Saturday, a full 26 strokes better than the opening rounds.

"The ball is going a long way, and the golf course is playing short". He knows what it's like to play with big leads, to win big.

"It's a bummer but I wanted to play 18 pretty solid, just to end the day well, and I think I did that", said the four-time PGA Tour victor and 2012 U.S. Open champion from Wake Forest. Simpson started his round with a birdie at the first, and added birdies at the 4th and the 9th to make the turn at 2-under par for his day. I didn't know anything about a course record.

Tiger Woods finished up no fewer than 15 shots off the pace after rounds of 72 and 71 respectively.

"I think it's a lovely golf course in the sense that I could go shoot a few under tomorrow because there's birdie holes out there", he said. Johnson did it earlier this season at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. Maybe all parties needed it; until now, fevered hype around the American amid his latest return from back surgery had not been endorsed by results.

Nevertheless, the 14-time major champion is to play the weekend for the seventh time in eight events he has played this year.

  • Lawrence Cooper