By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- So often Tiger Woods forces his opponents into mistakes.
Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship wasn’t much different, whether it was Sergio Garcia hitting into the water on the 17th hole, or David Lingmerth needing birdie on the 18th and coming away with a bogey.
“I shot even par, which is not a bad score out there, but I feel like I could have done a lot better,” Lingmerth said. “That's why that's leaving a little sour taste right now. I felt like I left a lot of shots out there.”
A three-putt from 45 feet on No. 8, another one from 30 feet on No. 10, specifically. They put Lingmerth into rally mode, and catching Woods has proved to be near impossible for the last 15-plus years. He’s the Mariano Rivera of golf, having converted 53 of 57 opportunities when he has at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.
Three birdies on the back nine gave the Little Swede That Could a chance, though, as he pulled to within one of Woods with two holes to play.
After watching Sergio Garcia dump two shots into the water at the par-3 17th hole, Lingmerth stiffed his tee shot to the traditional front right pin position to inside 8 feet.
Only the 25-year-old rookie making just his 13th career start on the PGA TOUR missed the putt, jamming it through the break.
“I had a good look at it, and I thought it was a right edge putt,” Lingmerth said. “I just pushed it a hair, and left it hanging a little high.”
That meant Lingmerth needed to do what only five players were able to do all day: Make birdie on the 18th.
With water left, Lingmerth left his tee shot out to the right, the ball landing in the rough and leaving him a tough angle to the front left pin.
He again missed right, leaving himself 61 feet from the hole.
Those are things trying to catch Woods can do.
Lingmerth made sure to get his putt to the hole, but it ran 12 feet past. Game over.
“If you would have asked me if I would have taken a 72 before the final round I probably would have tried to do better instead of taking that,” he said. “I really wasn't trying to chase (Tiger) too much. I was trying to do my own thing and I ended up having a chance there towards the end. I was just trying to shoot a good score.”
The good news for Lingmerth is that while his score wasn’t good enough to win, it was good enough to secure his job for next year.
By finishing second, he earned more than $700,000, which combined with the more than $550,000 he’d already banked this season, locks up his card for 2013-14.
“They’re are all positives,” Lingmerth said. “I've never been in that position before. A lot of the big names were up on the leaderboard, so it was fun to contend with those guys, and I felt comfortable out there all day and all week. If I get a chance again, I hope I can take it to another level.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Jonas Blixt polished off his round of 76 around noon on Sunday and planned to head home to take a nap.
He wouldn't get to sleep long, though, because he was heading back at TPC Sawgrass to watch his next-door neighbor David Lingmerth try to win THE PLAYERS Championship later that afternoon.
Lingmerth tees off at 2:38 p.m. ET in the final group of the day with Sergio Garcia. The PGA TOUR rookie is tied for the lead with Garcia and world No. 1 Tiger Woods at 11 under, one stroke ahead of Ryan Palmer, Casey Wittenberg and Henrik Stenson.
Blixt, who met Lingmerth on the Web.com Tour, won't be the only familiar face in his friend's gallery. Lingmerth's financee Megan Mercurio will be nervously walking along with his father Thomas and brother Andras, who flew in from Sweden on Wednesday, along with his coach Hans Larson from the Swedish Golf Federation.
Blixt knows his fellow Swede to be a "fierce competitor." Since Lingmerth moved to Jacksonville Beach in December, the two have been playing practice rounds on the Stadium Course and keep a running tally of their matches. Blixt says that while their scores are modest, generally a couple under par, they are tied 2-2 overall.
"It's almost impossible to talk with him in a normal practice round," Blixt reported. "... He loves to compete and he's good at it. ... But I think it's great. He just does his own thing and he believes in himself."
Blixt says the two live close enough that he can "sneak a peak" into Lingmerth's house from his bedroom. Blixt settled here first, and Lingmerth decided to move because he wanted to live where the winter was more moderate than in Fayetteville, Ark., where he went to college and met Mercurio.
Lingmerth's passions were evident from the get-go, Blixt said. His friend loves ice hockey and considered pursing the sport as a career until he was about 15. He's a big fan of the Washington Capitals and center Nicklas Backstrom, a 25-year-old Swede like Lingmerth.
"I don't know if his first love is golf or ice hockey," Blixt said. "I think it is a little confusing."
There is no confusing Lingmerth's collegiate affiliation, though. He went to Arkansas and remains a staunch supporter.
"He's a huge Razorback fan, absolutely huge," Blixt said. "It's almost impossible to talk to him about anything else, any other teams because they are the best, obviously."
Not even Blixt's alma mater, Florida State? "No, clearly not," he said with a grin. "Even though we are a lot better."
Blixt says putting is the strength of Lingmerth's game. He's tied for first in distance of putts made this week and ranks 14th in strokes gained putting. He's no slouch off the tee, either, and is tied for first in driving distance.
So is Blixt surprised to see Lingmerth with a share of the lead at the PGA TOUR's signature event?
"That's a hard question," Blixt said after a long pause. "Everybody that plays out here, they're good enough to be up there. You always see those normal names like Tiger, not Phil this week but usually Phil and Adam Scott, sometimes you mix it in with a little more unknown players like Lingmerth.
"I'm impressed that he's been keeping his head cold and just keep on chugging along which is great. This is a golf course that really reveals your strengths and weaknesses. I think he's in a good frame of mind right now and he's going to do well this week."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Only once has there been a three-way tie going into the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship -- in 1985 Hale Irwin, Calvin Peete and D.A. Weibring shared the top spot before Peete shot 66 to win by three.
Don't be surprised if something similar happens this year. Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have both won here before. So has Stenson, who is a shot back of Woods, Garcia and the other leader rookie David Lingmerth.
Speaking of Lingmerth, only three times in the 39 previous years of this tournament has a player shot all four rounds in the 60s. Lingmerth is the only player to have done so through the first three this week.
The best finish by a rookie here? A tie for third by Fulton Allem in 1988 and Camilo Villegas in 2003.
As for Woods and Garcia, Woods is 52-for-56 on the PGA TOUR when leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes. Garcia? He's just 3-for-9.
Also of note: Woods has posted rounds of par or better 21 of 23 times on TOUR this season. With the wind kicked up and the golf course playing firm and fast by the time the final groups tee off, who knows, par might be good enough.
Stenson, meanwhile, has performed well here before -- when he won in 2009, he closed with a 66.
This season, Stenson already has a runner-up in Houston and a tie for eighth at Bay Hill on his resume.
Who do you think will win? Discuss below.
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.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A 25-year-old PGA TOUR rookie has found rarified air with three former PLAYERS champions hot on his heels as the third round is suspended by darkness after a weather delay of nearly two hours earlier in the day.
David Lingmerth, a Swede who played at Arkansas, made an 8-footer for eagle at the 16th hole to take sole possession of the lead. Lingmerth had just hit his tee shot at the 17th hole to 10 feet when the horn sounded to suspend play.
He and his playing partner, Casey Wittenberg, who had a 5-footer opted to attempt their birdie putts. Both made the putts so they will return on Sunday morning at 7:10 a.m. to play one hole on what could be a career-defining Sunday.
Lingmerth, who had missed his last five cuts, is 12 under and owns a two-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods. Stenson opted to finish the 16th hole and made par while the other two stopped after hitting their drives on No. 15.
Stenson, who was tied for the lead until he bogeyed No. 15, was 1 under when he headed toward the clubhouse. Garcia, who had just bogeyed No. 14 after finding the bunker that runs down the left side of the fairway, was 1 over while Woods was even after reeling off 11 straight pars.
Jeff Maggert, a 49-year-old veteran, finished his round of 66 more than four hours before play was suspended and is among three players tied at 9 under. Whittenberg is another, along with Ryan Palmer, who birdied the 16th hole before play as suspended.
David Lynn, who lost in a playoff at last week's Wells Fargo Championship, shot a 68 and is tied with Hunter Mahan at 8 under. Mahan had a roller-coaster round of 71 that included two double bogeys, an eagle and four birdies.
The estimated start time for the fourth round is 8:35 a.m. ET. Players will be re-paired for the final round.
"I'm half asleep, I'm really hungry and I really want dinner," Woods said. "So let's call it quits and go watch the Knicks game."
Lingmerth, on the other hand, opted to continue to play because he felt he had momentum, particularly after the eagle putt.
"I was rolling it pretty good here towards the end on the back side so I figured I might as well keep it going," Lingmerth said.
Lingmerth, who lost to Brian Gay in a playoff at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation in his second start on TOUR, is trying to become the first rookie to win THE PLAYERS -- and just the third to make the PGA TOUR's signature event his first victory.
"I might have some butterflies," the Web.com Tour grad said. "And it might be hard to sleep but it should be interesting."
David Lingmerth eagles the 16th hole at TPC Sawgrass to take the lead in THE PLAYERS Championship.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- David Lingmerth was one of the first people on the range at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday when the practice facilities opened after several days of torrential rain.
The Swede, who moved to nearby Jacksonville Beach in December, had been looking forward to this week's PLAYERS Championship. For the first time all year, the PGA TOUR rookie actually knew the course he'd be playing on that week.
"So this one I knew I was going to have a pretty good idea what I was going to get into, so it made me feel good," Lingmerth said. "It's been helping me with the lines off the tee and where I can and cannot miss around the greens and stuff like that."
Indeed, it has. Lingmerth is one par 4 shy of his fourth straight round in the 60s on the always challenging Stadium Course. He's in heady company, too, leading a trio of former champions -- world No. 1 Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson -- by two strokes at THE PLAYERS Championship.
"I had a good feeling (about the week), but this is obviously great," Lingmerth said.
Lingmerth bolted into the lead as darkness approached Saturday with an 8-foot eagle putt at the 16th hole and a 10-footer for birdie at iconic 17th. The horn to suspend play sounded just after he hit his pitching wedge to the island green and he wasn't about to let the putt percolate overnight.
"I was feeling good about things, so I didn't want to sleep on it and try to start over tomorrow morning," Lingmerth said.
THE PLAYERS marks just the 13th event of Lingmerth's TOUR career. No rookie has ever won THE PLAYERS -- the highest finish by one is a tie for third -- and only two players have made it their breakthrough victory.
Lingmerth came close to his own first win in just his second TOUR start at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation where he lost in a playoff to Brian Gay. He's missed his last five cuts, although he's felt like he's on the verge of playing well.
"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; I can promise you that," Lingmerth said. "It was kind of frustrating because I couldn't get anything out of my game really. But now this week I've been able to score, which obviously helped."
Lingmerth moved to Florida to escape the winters in Arkansas, where he went to college. He lives about 10 yards from the home of fellow Swede Jonas Blixt, who won the Frys.com Open as a rookie last season and is 17 strokes behind his friend.
"Jonas is a little influence for me coming down here," Lingmerth said. "He told me this place was great and practice and the weather was always good. It was nice to move somewhere where you knew you had a buddy you could practice with and hang out with off the course and everything. So, yeah, it's fun."
Lingmerth estimated that he hasn't played more than a dozen full rounds on the Stadium Course and says he's never shot lower than the 68s he's had in the first two rounds. Like most players who live in the area, though, he's quick to point out that Pete Dye's signature creation plays differently this week than the other 51 each year.
"Obviously, thrilled to be in this position," Lingmerth said. "It's going to be a fun day tomorrow."
David Lingmerth birdies the eighth hole during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA TOUR rookie David Lingmerth continues to hang tough through his first 14 holes as the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship winds down.
The 25-year-old Swede, who went to the University of Arkansas, is currently tied for third with Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, one stroke behind Henrik Stenson. He's proven quite resilient on Saturday, bouncing back from both his bogeys with birdies on the next hole and making four total.
The best finish by a rookie at THE PLAYERS are the ties for third Fulton Allem and Camilo Villegas posted in 1988 and 2006, respectively. Jeff Quinney tied for sixth in 2007 while Dave Rummells shared 10th in 1996.
Lingmerth is playing in his 12th TOUR event, and he posted his best finish in his second, a playoff loss at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He has missed the cut in his last five starts, though.
Two players have made THE PLAYERS their first PGA TOUR victory -- Craig Perks in 2002 and Tim Clark in 2010.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- We now have a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after Scott Stallings' bogey at the par-4 16th hole.
Stallings, who started the final round with a five-stroke lead, is deadlocked with David Lingmerth and Brian Gay, who have finished their rounds, and Charles Howell III who is about to tee off on the par-5 18th hole.
Gay, who was on the fringe of the 18th green in two, eventually missed an 8-footer that would have given him sole possession of the lead. He shot 63. Lingmerth birdied the 18th to shoot 62 and get to 25 under.
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Yes, Scott Stallings has the upper hand. But make no mistake, there are birdies to be had at the Palmer Private Course on Sunday.
You have to look no farther than Kevin Chappell, who started on the back nine. He has surged into a tie for second at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation after playing his first 12 holes in 8 under.
Chappell, who is from Fresno, made six birdies on the back nine and added another pair on Nos. 1 and 2. He's 20 under and tied with David Lingmerth, who is 5 under through seven holes on the front, and Brian Gay, who is 4 under through six.
Stallings, though, has made three straight birdies starting at the second hole. So his lead remains five strokes.