By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Yes, David Lingmerth has missed his last five cuts. But the Web.com Tour grad has certainly been on top of his game this week at TPC Sawgrass in his first PLAYERS Championship, and he doesn't expect that to change over the final 18 holes.
Lingmerth will tee off in Sunday's final group with Sergio Garcia at 2:38 p.m. ET after returning this morning to complete the final hole of the third round. Granted, he made bogey at the 18th, which is playing as the toughest of the week, but the Swede who now makes his home in nearby Jacksonville Beach, still managed a solid 69.
So Lingmerth is 11 under and tied for the lead with Garcia and world No. 1 Tiger Woods, both former PLAYERS champs, and one stroke ahead of Casey Wittenberg, Ryan Palmer and Henrik Stenson, another man who has won at TPC Sawgrass. But Lingmerth, who is the only player in the field this week to break 70 in each of the first three rounds, isn't intimidated.
"I know I'll be in the mix, but I've been playing good, and I'm going to keep doing it," said the 25-year-old who is bidding to become the first PGA TOUR rookie to win the organization's flagship event.
When darkness forced a premature end to the third round after a weather delay of nearly two hours on Saturday, Lingmerth actually held a two-stroke advantage. He had eagled the 16th and birdied the 17th to pull away from the pack and immediately found himself the center of attention.
"It was quite fun," Lingmerth said. "After I got done playing there were a bunch of interviews and everything and kind of got me going. So I had to take a little time to sit down before I could go to bed. But once I did, it wasn't too bad. I fell asleep pretty quick.
But his bogey at No. 18 on Sunday, coupled with Woods' birdie at No. 16 and Garcia's consecutive birdies at Nos. 15 and 16, created a logjam at the top. Lingmerth came back out at 7:10 a.m. and blocked his tee shot on the final hole, then got lucky when his 6-iron nicked a tree and and scooted left.
"I didn't even see until it bounced into the fairway," said Lingmerth, who would wedge on a two-putt for the 5. "That was kind of a lucky break."
Lingmerth said he could "live" with that bogey, though. And he still has just as good a chance to win the tournament as anyone else.
"I've been feeling good all week, so I'm expecting to be in it," Lingmerth said.