PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler won a one-year wager with his caddy on Saturday. On Sunday, he hopes to win the Players Championship, return to world No. 1 and earn the biggest check on the PGA Tour.
Scheffler shot a 7-under 65 at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead with a 14-under 202 total, two shots ahead of Australia’s Min Woo Lee.
Scheffler, who had to finish his second round of 69 in the morning, jumped into the lead with a birdie-eagle in the afternoon. After taking his second shot on the second par-5 hole, he launched a pitch from the rough and rocked the shot 62 feet and then gaped at caddy Ted Scott.
“I had a decent lie there in the rough and was able to hit a flop shot exactly where I wanted to land,” he said. “I was definitely lucky to see him come in, and then Teddy and I had a year-long relationship where I beat him up and he owes me something, but he didn’t have any of it, so he owes me. . He’s an IOU from Teddy.
Scheffler made his solo bogey in the seventh, but barely stopped it when he rallied for back-to-back birdies. He birdied two of his last three holes as he posted a career low on the Stadium Course and claimed his seventh career lead/co-lead through 54 holes on Tour. The reigning Masters champion is looking to win for the second time this season — he defended his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February — and supplant Jon Rahm as world No. 1. But Scheffler knows that winning will take care of the latter.
“I think the ranking is just an algorithm,” he said. “For me, I would rather win the tournament than go back to world No. 1. So that will be my focus for tomorrow, just go out there and have a solid round of golf, and the qualifying will be the qualifying.”
Lee is making a name for himself
Australia’s Min Woo Lee reacts to his birdie attempt on the 17th green during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Min Woo Lee is trying to catch up with his sister, Minjee, who has already won two majors on the LPGA Tour. On Saturday, he shot 66-under at TPC Sawgrass to improve to 12-under for the week and just two shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler.
The 24-year-old Australian hit a 66 in the final round at the Honda Classic that propelled him into Players field without a shot to spare as No. 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings at the cutoff that Sunday.
“It would have been crazy to get to 51st in the rankings and not get in,” he said. “I think he ended up being a shooting eighth with the qualifying points. Things worked my way, and you have to make the most of it.”
Ever? Lee’s round started with a bang. He holed out from 112 yards for eagle on the first hole.
“I slimmed down a nice 55 (degree) wedge there and jumped and spun back into the hole. So it wasn’t a perfect shot, but it looked good on TV,” she said, joking later, “I won’t say I slimmed it down; keep it between us
Lee blistered up front with a 5-under 31 tune. He added back-to-back birdies at numbers 11 and 12 and just one bogey at 18 when he putt from 6 feet, botching a clean card. Saturday.
Lee, who won the 2021 Scottish Open on the DP World Tour, plays most of his golf on that tour but is motivated to make a name for himself in America. He is attempting to become the third player in tournament history to make the Players his first Tour win.
“I don’t think people who play on the DP World Tour would be surprised to see him in contention in any case,” said Tommy Fleetwood. “But, yeah, obviously he has a bright future ahead of him.”
“He doesn’t have a weakness,” Aaron Rai said. “I think he’s going to be a star here on the PGA Tour for years to come.
He is quickly becoming a fan favorite this week and fans chanted his name as he walked to the 17th.he and 18he vegetables.
“Hearing the crowd sing, that’s all I ask for,” he said. “Yeah, I had a lot of fun today. I did a lot of the right things and hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”
Hoge’s record day
(L-R) Justin Thomas of the United States congratulates Tom Hoge of the United States on the ninth green after his course record 62 during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
After shooting a course record 10-under 62 on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Tom Hoge was hungry for a cheeseburger.
He had been feasting on birdies all day, 10 in all, the final 10-foot birdie putt in the ninth to break the record previously held by nine golfers on the course of Pete Dye, best known for bringing golfers to their knees. players.
On Thursday, Hoge limped home at 6-of-78 and booked a flight back to Dallas, assuming he would miss the cut. But he rallied to shoot 68 on Friday and due to a suspension of play due to inclement weather, he sweated waiting to see if he would make the cut, which he did on the number.
“It wasn’t until Eric Cole was putting out the last hole that it was really confirmed. I felt like I took some really good swings down the stretch yesterday when I was right on the cutoff trying to get from 15 to 18. So I felt like my game was in good order, silly as it is. I mean, it could have missed the cut,” Hoge said. “I felt lucky to have playing time this morning. I just tried to go out there and make as many birdies as I could.”
Friday’s rain softened the greens and left the Stadium Course vulnerable. The third round scoring average of 69.573 was the lowest scoring average in any round in tournament history.
Hoge, who started on the back nine, birdied in clusters. Managed the green at par 4 12he he two-putted for birdie and hit an 8-iron to 4 feet at 15, one of eight shots inside 12 feet on the day. He hit three straight on the front nine starting with a 19-foot putt on the second.
Hoge drained a 24-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth for 9-under for the day and then plunged to 10 feet on his last to shoot 31 both sides and 62 bogey-free.
Hoge, who likes sweets for breakfast, had only one complaint to register.
“The food is too healthy in the players’ dining room,” he said. “There is a QR code for us; I registered that complaint. They need some food like the rest of the obese people in America eat.”
He is not a great breakfast eater, but the lunch served in the players’ dining room has too many vegetables, he said.
“I’m pretty hungry right now,” he said. “I’m ready for a cheeseburger or something.”
Fleetwood floats in the fray
Tommy Fleetwood waits on the 18th green during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Fleetwood had 4 over 25 holes at the Players Championship and was in danger of missing the cut. It had been in his words “terrible on the greens.”
“I was doing an absolute hash yesterday early in the round,” he said.
That was until he hit a 24-foot birdie putt at eight and flipped the script. That was the first of three straight birdies before play was called off Friday due to inclement weather. He picked up where he left off and rallied to shoot 2-under 70 to make the cut. The floodgates had opened and Fleetwood took advantage, playing a 23-hole stretch at 13-under.
Fleetwood made eight birdies and just one bogey, coincidentally No. 8, to post a 7-under-par 65 to improve to a 9-under 207 and a tie for fourth going into the final round, five shots back. Fleetwood has won five times on the DP World Tour and has been a Ryder Cup hero for Europe, but he is still looking for his first PGA Tour win.
“That’s been a goal, a dream, an incentive while I’ve been playing here,” he said. “Yes, of course, I would have loved to have done it at this point. I would have loved to have done it multiple times. But I haven’t, so there’s another chance tomorrow.”
rai is rising
Aaron Rai of England talks with caddy Jason Timmis before teeing off during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Aaron Rai matched leader Scottie Scheffler’s 65, but even Scheffler couldn’t match Rai’s final stretch – a 4-1-3 finish.
The highlight, of course, was the ace on the par 3 17he hole, marking the first Players Championship with multiple aces on the 17ths. On Thursday, Hayden Buckley hit one. Rai did similarly, hitting his shot about 15 feet past the left front pin before he turned back and entered the hole.
“I felt in a very good number with my gap wedge,” Rai said. “He hit very well, he looked very good in the air and very happy to see him come in. It was an incredible moment.”
Rai, a 28-year-old Englishman with two DP World Tour wins to his credit, is tied for fourth on a nine-under-par 209 with Fleetwood and first-round leader Chad Ramey. Rai recently closed on a house just five minutes from TPC Sawgrass and has been playing the course regularly for the past year. He’s not even his first ace on the Stadium Course. During his initial round on the course, he aced the par-3 third hole.
“To be here at Sawgrass and possibly have a chance tomorrow is an incredible opportunity,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous and a little apprehensive, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s an incredible opportunity.”
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek