May 12 2012
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- History isn’t exactly on the side of Zach Johnson, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar as they enter the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship with a one-stroke lead.
Only five times in 19 events this season has the third-round leader or co-leader gone on to win.
In this tournament, the second-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win just nine of 38 times.
Here’s a closer look at Johnson, Na and Kuchar. Can any of them hang go on to win?
-- Johnson’s 66 Friday was one shy of his personal best here, which came in the first round in 2005. He also shot 66 in the final round here last year.
-- All three of Johnson’s previous second-round lead/co-leads came during the 2004 season -- he won the BellSouth Classic, finished in a tie for 11th at the Shell Houston Open and tied for third at the Buick Championship.
-- This is Johnson’s eighth PLAYERS Championship. His tie for eighth in 2005 is his only top 10.
-- Johnson’s best finishes this year: A runner-up at the RBC Heritage and a tie for eighth at the Humana Challenge.
-- Others who have won the Masters and THE PLAYERS: Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Pretty exclusive company of course.
-- Na has held at least a share of the 36-hole lead five times in his career. The last time he did was at the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he went on to win.
-- Na missed his last two cuts at THE PLAYERS and has made just three cuts in seven starts at TPC Sawgrass.
-- This season, he has four top-10 finishes, including a season-best T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
-- Prior to this week’s opening rounds of 67-69, Na’s only other round in the 60s at THE PLAYERS was a 66 in the second round in 2009.
-- Na leads the field in strokes gained-putting through the first two rounds.
-- Kuchar has three career top-20 finishes in this event with a tie for 13th in 2010 his best result.
-- This week also marks the first time Kuchar has posted two rounds in the 60s in any given year at THE PLAYERS.
-- Four times in his career Kuchar has held at least a share of the second-round lead. Twice he ended up finishing second, once he tied for third and another time he tied for 10th.
-- Kuchar has yet to miss a cut this season in 10 starts, with top-10 finishes at the Masters (T3), World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship (T5), WGC-Cadillac Championship (T8) and Transitions Championship (T10).