Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lee Westwood retains lead heading into final round of Players Championship

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing a chip for eagle on No. 16. He didn’t bogey until the final hole for 66.

Associated Press

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing a chip for eagle on No. 16. He didn’t bogey until the final hole for 66.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — One round away from one of the biggest wins of his career, Lee Westwood knows what to expect on the final day of the Players Championship.

Not only because of his 17 years as a pro and his 30 victories worldwide, or his 54-hole lead last month at the Masters. Saturday at TPC Sawgrass was enough of a reminder.

Westwood watched a two-shot lead turn into a two-shot deficit. Over the final hour, Robert Allenby picked up three shots on the last three holes, and Heath Slocum dropped four shots on the last six.

The day ended with Westwood hitting a daring shot with a 6-iron through a gap in the trees for par on the 18th hole for 2-under 70 to finish the third round with a one-shot lead, same as he started it. He has more company on the leaderboard now — Masters champion Phil Mickelson included — but the course is as significant as the names behind him.

"There was no real scope for thinking about anything else other than what I was doing," Westwood said. "It's that kind of golf course. If you play well, birdies are available. If you don't hit good shots, they penalize you. That's what good golf courses do to you."

This day, this course did both.

Mickelson suddenly was back in the picture, along with that No. 1 world ranking, because of his 66 that put him five shots behind. Tiger Woods was not, courtesy of a bogey-bogey finish for 71 that put him 10 shots behind. Tampa's Ruji Imada, who began the day one shot behind Westwood, shot 4-over 76 and fell seven shots behind Westwood, who was at 14-under 202.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, the only player in the top 10 with a major, didn't make a birdie until the ninth hole in his round of 69. He was in second at 12-under 204, with Torrey Pines winner Ben Crane (68) and Francesco Molinari (71).

"The golf course changed a lot. It got really firm (Saturday) afternoon," Westwood said. "I thought I played well, gave myself a lot of chances, missed a couple, but all in all, I was pleased with the way I played."

Mickelson began the day nine shots out of the lead, same as Woods. They went opposite directions, however. Mickelson didn't make a bogey until the final hole to put himself back into the picture.

"I feel like things started to click a little bit (Saturday), and I think I've got one more low round in me," he said. "I just hope that it will be enough, that I'll be within striking distance."

To reach No. 1 for the first time in his career, Mickelson has to win and have Woods finish out of the top five. Woods was tied for 45th after the third round.

Seconds after getting an autograph from Mickelson, a young boy decided to talk a little trash to Woods.

As Woods walked by after his round, the kid yelled, "Tiger, say so long to No. 1. Kiss it goodbye."

Woods showed no reaction. He was more concerned with getting back on track.

"I hit more good shots (Saturday) than I have all week," Woods said. "So you don't turn this thing around overnight and then just go out there and play great golf. This is a process, especially since I haven't played at all. I just need more rounds."

Allenby was five shots behind when he walked off the 13th tee. He made up ground quickly with a 6-iron to about 12 feet on the par-5 16th for eagle, then a 12-foot birdie on the island-green 17th that curled into the side of the cup. He shot 67 to get in the final group.

"That's the thing," Allenby said. "You don't know what's going to happen out there. All you can do is just play your own golf. But I knew I had to push it a little bit just to try to get within reach.

"Obviously, the leaderboard changed a couple of times through the back nine. Luckily for me, I did well on the finishing holes."

Slocum ran off three birdies in four holes around the turn to reach 15 under until a three-putt from the fringe below a steep ridge on the 13th changed everything. He bogeyed the 15th, then dumped his tee shot into the water on 17 for double bogey. After all that, he shot 72.

His finish put him at 11-under 205, tied with Tim Clark (66), Charley Hoffman (69) and Chris Stroud (66).

The splash of the day came from Kevin Stadler on the par-4 18th after he pulled his tee shot into the water, did the same thing with his next shot, then tossed his 3-wood so far into the lagoon that it wasn't retrievable. "We went nuts," onlooker Jason Thomas of Jacksonville said of the crowd's reaction. "It was awesome." Stadler eventually finished with quintuple-bogey 9.

European: Fredrik Andersson Hed shot 9-under 63 to move to 17-under 199 for a six-stroke lead after the third round of the Italian Open at Turin. Italian 17-year-old phenom Matteo Manassero, making his pro debut, shot par and was at 4 under.

Players Championship


Lee Westwood67-65-70202-14

Robert Allenby66-70-67203-13

Ben Crane67-69-68204-12

Lucas Glover70-65-69204-12

Francesco Molinari68-65-71204-12


Phil Mickelson70-71-66207-9

Davis Love69-68-71208-8

Ryuji Imada67-66-76209-7

Sergio Garcia69-70-71210-6

Tiger Woods70-71-71212-4


TV: 2 p.m., Ch. 8

Weather: 76 degrees, no chance of rain

Lee Westwood retains lead heading into final round of Players Championship 05/08/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 10:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  4. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]
  5. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...