PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods dominance on the par 5s has continued here in the final round, where he birdied the par-5 second.
He's now a collective 9 under on par 5s this week, and he's since added another birdie (on the par-4 fourth) to get to 13 under and one shot clear of the field.
David Lingmerth, meanwhile, birdied the opening hole and has two pars since, while Sergio Garcia, who is playing alongside the Swede in the day's final group, has three pars.
Another stroke back are Ryan Palmer and Casey Wittenberg. Four others, including Brandt Snedeker, are at 9 under.
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."
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No Englishman has ever won THE PLAYERS Championship. But two Englishmen are in contention to break that drought in Sunday's final round.
Lee Westwood (born in Worksop, England) and David Lynn (born in Billinge, England) started the fourth round on the top 10 of the leaderboard -- Lynn at 8 under, three strokes off the lead and Westwood at 7 under.
Twelve of the 39 previous winners of THE PLAYERS have been International players, including Australia's Steve Elkington, the only two-time International winner.
Until Matt Kuchar's win last year, International players had won the four previous PLAYERS.
But Scotland's Sandy Lyle in 1987 is the only Brit to win THE PLAYERS.
As for best finish by an Englishman at TPC Sawgrass, Ian Poulter finished second in 2009 to Sweden's Henrik Stenson. Luke Donald tied for second in 2005.
Tiger Woods and Casey Wittenberg were paired together last year at The Olympic Club. (Franklin/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Will introductions be required for the final four pairings in Sunday's final round of THE PLAYERS Championships? Perhaps.
Of the last four twosomes, few of the playing partners have significant experience being in the same pairing at a PGA TOUR event.
Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth, who are in the final group that tees off at 2:38 p.m. ET, have never played together at a TOUR event.
The same goes for Jeff Maggert and David Lynn, who tee off at 2:08 p.m. ET.
Henrik Stenson and Ryan Palmer, who tee off at 2:18 p.m. ET, have played together just one time at a TOUR event -- in the final round of last year's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Palmer shot 71 to Stenson's 73.
The pairing with the closest familiarity is the twosome of Tiger Woods and Casey Wittenberg, who tee off at 2:28 p.m. ET.
Sunday will be the sixth round they've been grouped together on TOUR. Woods has shot the better score four of the previous five rounds (see chart below).
Garcia acknowledged that he knows little about Lingmerth, a rookie on TOUR, but looks forward to the pairing.
"He's obviously a very nice player, trying to find his way on this TOUR," Garcia said, "and it will be fun to play with him this afternoon."
WOODS-WITTENBERG PAIRINGS ON PGA TOUR
|Year||Tournament||Round||Wittenberg's score||Woods' score|
|2013||Farmers Insurance Open||3||72||69|
|2013||Farmers Insurance Open||4||74||72|
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. -- Henrik Stenson acknowledges that he may have been more confident in 2009 when he shot a final-round 66 to come from five strokes back to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
Experience, though, has got to count for something, and Stenson hopes it works in his favor in this Sunday's final round. He'll start the final 18 holes one stroke off the lead held jointly by Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, who like Stenson are also former PLAYERS champs, and surprising PGA TOUR rookie David Lingmerth, a fellow Swede.
Stenson, who hasn't won on TOUR since that signature Sunday at THE PLAYERS, clearly relishes the opportunity.
"I might have been a little more confident in '09, and that final day was probably my best round of golf ever, given the circumstances of the tournament and how tough that golf course played," he said. "So we'll see, but I'm happy to be at the races. I've got more experience now than I had back then, so that should weigh out to something."
Stenson, who parred his final two holes in the weather-delayed third round on Sunday morning, took an immediate liking to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. He tied for third in his 2006 debut and added a tie for 10th in 2008 before picking up the win. He tied for 15th a year ago, as well.
"I've got a great feeling playing this golf course," Stenson said. "I've liked it ever since I played the first time in '06. ... So I'll go out and do my job, and see if on the back nine if I can be in position and give myself a chance at it."
The back nine, though, has been problematic for Stenson this week. He's 11 under on the front and 1 over on the back, where the Swede closed with a 38 in the third round.
"Little bit disappointing finish on the back nine yesterday, but you know, back in at '09, when I won, I played really bad on a Saturday so it might be a good omen," Stenson said.
And the pars on the 17th and 18th Sunday morning were a positive for Stenson, who returned to the TPC Sawgrass property at 5:30 a.m. to prepare.
"You've still got to dig deep and prepare and do your normal stuff," Stenson explained. "It's not the easiest two holes to finish off in the morning at 7 o'clock, so I was quite pleased making two pars on 17 and 18. It's a wide-open tournament, probably 10 or 15 guys that can win this thing.
"So happy to be out there and just going to go back and rest a little bit and come back ready for this afternoon."
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.