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."