In the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship from TPC Sawgrass, David Lingmerth had a 4-under round and leads by two strokes.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- When David Lingmerth wakes up Sunday morning, he’ll have a two-shot lead at THE PLAYERS Championship.
That’s if he sleeps at all. This is no dream, even if Lingmerth played like one on Saturday.
The 25-year-old rookie from Sweden who is making just his 13th career start on the PGA TOUR played his first 17 holes in 4 under in the third round -- the last two with an eagle and birdie -- to forge a two-stroke lead before the horn sounded because of darkness at TPC Sawgrass.
Now the nightmare: The three players behind him on the leaderboard are named Stenson, Garcia and Woods and all have won here before.
“I'm aware of where they're at,” said Lingmerth, whose biggest achievements prior to this week were winning last year on the Web.com Tour and losing a playoff to Brian Gay earlier this year at PGA West. “I try not to look at the leaderboard when I'm out there. I'm just going to try to forget about all that and just try to do my thing.”
He must have a short memory. Lingmerth had missed his last five cuts coming into this week.
“I don't know if I could predict that this was going to happen, but my game was feeling a lot better than missing five cuts in a row,” he said. “It was kind of frustrating because I couldn't get anything out of my game really.”
This week, he’s gotten everything out of it with his first two rounds in the 60s and what looks to be a third. He has plenty of competition, however, as he tries to become the first player to win his first trip to TPC Sawgrass.
Henrik Stenson: Only a handful of players have won multiple PLAYERS Championships. For nine holes on Saturday, Stenson was unflappable and looked well on his way to adding his name to that list. A couple of bogeys on Nos. 11 and 15 stung, however. The good news for the Swede? He’s only a shot back, and remember, this is a guy who shot 66 in the final round here four years ago.
Sergio Garcia: It took all of 30 minutes for Garcia to lose his lead on Saturday when he yanked his second shot from the fairway into the trees on the par-5 second hole. Garcia appeared to be bothered by a stir from the gallery as some applauded because Woods, who was in the trees, pulled a wood from his bag while Garcia was preparing to hit his shot. “He moved the crowd that he needed to move, and I waited for that,” Garcia said in an interview with NBC. “I want to say that he didn’t see that I was ready. But you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit. It was unfortunate. I might have hit it there if nothing happens, you never know. If I hit a good shot there and make a birdie, it gets my day started in a bit of a different way.” The good news for Garcia? His day ended with him trailing by just a shot after he played his next dozen holes in even par with two birdies and two bogeys.
Tiger Woods: It was a day of grinding for Woods, who made 11 straight pars before the horn sounded for the final time. “I was very patient,” he said. “Some of these pins are such sucker pins.” When he returns Sunday, he’ll have a wedge in his hand from the 15th fairway. He’ll also have the par-5 16th awaiting, which he’s birdied twice this week. Woods has been dominant on the par 5s this week, playing them in a collective 8 under. When he plays them that well, it’s rare he doesn’t win. And don’t think he didn’t take notice of Garcia. “The marshals, they told me he already hit,” Woods explained. “So I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot. Then I hear his comments afterwards and not real surprising that he's complaining about something.”
The feel-good stories
Jeff Maggert: The oldest player to win THE PLAYERS Championship was Fred Funk at 48 years, 9 months and 14 days. Maggert, who shot 66 early Saturday to get to 9 under, has a chance to eclipse that after turning 49 in February. He joked that his goal at the start of the week was to make the cut, but added, "I'm still very competitive on the inside and want to play well every week. It's just tough, just trying to keep it together and keep your health in good shape. One week my wrist hurts, the next week my shoulder hurts, so I'm working my way through it." He’ll also get to sleep in on Sunday while those who didn’t finish have to be there early for the 7 a.m. ET restart.
Ryan Palmer: In this business there’s no cheering, but it’s hard not to root for Ryan Palmer, whose lifelong friend Clay Aderholt was killed in an automobile accident in Texas on Thursday night. Palmer has been playing with the letters “CA” written in black magic marker on his hat, and he’s played inspired for three days, getting to 9 under with a couple of holes left in his third round. When he returns Sunday, he’ll be faced with the par-3 17th.
Hunter Mahan: The last month has been miserable for Mahan, and Saturday looked like it might be more of the same when he double-bogeyed the 15th hole after his ball landed in a tree and he had to take a drop. Mahan bounced right back the next hole, however, with a birdie (though he gave it right back with a bogey on the 17th). On the bright side, Mahan got his round in before it got too dark, shooting a 71 to get to 8 under.
Marc Leishman: Last month Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters. After a 71 Saturday, Leishman could be the first Aussie to win here since Scott did it in 2004. Though Leishman bogeyed his final hole of the day, he’s still within reach five strokes back. He’s also played well of late with top 10s in each of his last two starts, including a tie for fourth at the Masters.