March 31, 2023

Scheffler takes a two-shot lead on low-scoring players

American Scottie Scheffler birdied the final hole to complete a 7-under 65 and take a two-shot lead in the final round of Sunday’s Players Championship.

With Spain’s world number one Jon Rahm withdrawing from the tournament due to illness and number three Rory McIlroy missing the cut, Scheffler, who is at 14 under par, can regain the top spot in the world rankings with a top five finish. at TPC Sawgrass.

However, he faces an international challenge, with Australian Min Woo Lee sitting at 12 under par after hitting 66 and compatriot Cam Davis two shots further behind.

English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Rai are tied for fourth, five shots behind Scheffler along with South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout and American Chad Ramey, the 18-hole leader.

Rai made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole, with its famous island green, following Hayden Buckley, who also opened the famous hole in the opening round.

American Tom Hoge set a new course record with his round of 62 and after scoring 78 in the first round, he is six strokes off the lead.

But a sixth tournament victory in 13 months is in Scheffler’s sights after he got off to a great start with a birdie at the first followed by an eagle at the par-5 third, where he chipped in from 61 yards.

A bogey at the seventh par-4 was the only blemish for the man who heads to Augusta next month as the defending champion.

“I played very well today. I had a good start, which is always good. I went on from there, I got a lot of looks. Good finish too,” he said.

– Toughest test –

It was the lowest third-round field score at par since the Players moved to Sawgrass in 1982 with 15 players shooting 67 or better, but Scheffler expects a tougher test Sunday.

“I think the conditions are going to be quite tough. From what I’ve seen, there will be quite gusty winds tomorrow afternoon, so it should be a good challenge,” he said.

Lee got off to a sensational start to his round, eagleing the par-4 first, holed out from 112 yards before sinking a 34-yard birdie putt on the fourth.

The 24-year-old from Perth made four more birdies before ending on a slightly sour note with a bogey at 18, where he missed a putt for par from seven feet.

The Sawgrass crowd greeted him with chants of ‘Woo’ echoing across the field.

“It was an unbelievable, unbelievable day. I only got there on the 17th and 18th and heard the crowd chant and that’s all I’m asking for. Yeah, I had a lot of fun,” he said.

“It’s really special to get that chant. I had the same thing at the Aussie PGA last year. It’s even cooler here at 17 at Sawgrass; you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“I love playing in front of a crowd and I love entertaining them. So I hope you had a good show today and that I can do it again tomorrow.”

Hoge had started his day by finishing the second round behind schedule and struggling to make the cut, saying he had booked a flight home after his 78th start.

But his course record of 10-under-par 62 forced a change of plans as he moved up the ranks.

“It’s been good to cancel some flights,” he said. “I didn’t even know it was a course record until after we were done in the (cabin) score.

“Today was going to be the day to do it if you were going to go out here because it was light and windy so you felt like you could birdie and still try to birdie. So I felt lucky and tried to take advantage.” of it the best I could.”


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