By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Peter Hanson said he has “always dreamed” of participating in THE PLAYERS Championship. He relocated his family to Orlando and even passed on the defense of the Iberdrola Open in Spain on the European Tour this week in deference to his first trip to TPC Sawgrass.
The 33-year-old Swede proved his passion late Friday, early Saturday and then again late Saturday as he moved into contention at 7-under par.
Hanson was in jeopardy of missing a fifth consecutive cut on the PGA TOUR as he was completing his second round early Friday afternoon. Finishing on the front nine, he hit a 3-iron to 15 feet to set up a birdie on the difficult par-3 eighth hole then hit 3-wood, 3-wood within easy up-and-down range on the par-5 ninth for another birdie to finish at even par and make the cut on the number.
He came out early Saturday and made seven birdies, including three in a row on the front nine (Nos. 3, 4 and 5). He had just birdied the 16th hole and was walking to 17 when the sky darkened considerably. Hanson and playing partner Ben Curtis took their time as the winds began to swirl. The horn to suspend play blew at 1:02 p.m.
“My caddie (Mark Sherwood) joked we should have played because he had the wind figured out,” Hanson said.
For the next 4½ hours, Hanson had the yardage -- 125 to the front pin -- on his mind as he relaxed in the clubhouse. He would be the first to play 17 when play resumed at 5:30 p.m. The dangerous front hole position, in softened conditions, was susceptible to a ball spinning back in the water.
Hanson hit a wedge, which spun back to the front fringe, 38 feet from hole. He two-putted for par. On 18, he drove right behind trees, pitched out short of the green, played to 8 feet and missed it left for his first bogey in 19 holes. But he had a 6-under-par 66, the first time he has broken par in a round since late March, a period of 11 rounds.
“If you would have 17 and 18 as hole No. 1 and 2, I wouldn’t play golf,” Hanson said.
The low round and completion of the third round will allow him to sleep in on Sunday and prepare for an early afternoon final round start.