Poulter ‘raging’, Woods & Spieth charge but Simpson leads Players by seven


Webb Simpson

Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, has not won on the PGA Tour since 2013

Webb Simpson takes a seven-shot lead into the final round of the Players Championship after a four-under 68 took the American to 19 under.

New Zealand’s Danny Lee (70) is second, two clear of world number one Dustin Johnson (69) at Florida’s TPC Sawgrass.

England’s Ian Poulter (69) reached 10 under but a double bogey at the 18th left him “raging” on eight under.

Jordan Spieth (65), Tiger Woods (65) and Tommy Fleetwood (68) are in the group tied for ninth alongside Poulter.

“I need to go hit some balls for 20 minutes to clear the few brain cells I’ve got left up there,” said the world number 26.

“It was a decent round, but then there is the double at the last. I am a little agitated and frustrated.”

Ian Poulter<!–

Ian Poulter has played in five Ryder Cups and been on the winning side four times

The European Ryder Cup stalwart, who finished tied for second last year, has had three top-10 finishes, including his victory in Houston, in his past four events.

And the 42-year-old’s recent return to form has continued this week in Florida.

Poulter was five under after 17 holes, with just one bogey on his card, before he found the bunker to the left of the final green with his second shot.

He failed with his first attempt to escape the narrow sand trap between the green and the water, and eventually two-putted for a double-bogey six.

Simpson’s to lose

Australia’s Steve Elkington holds the record for the largest winning margin at the Players Championship after claiming the title for a second time in 1997 by seven shots.

No player has lost the Players Championship after holding at least a three-shot lead after two rounds – Simpson was five clear after 36 holes, following a course record-equalling nine-under 63 on Friday.

A chip-in eagle from a bunker on the par-five 11th was the highlight of his third round, which included two dropped shots.

His tee shot to three feet on the island green 17th was also impressive, especially after having found the water in round two.

A 16-foot par save at the last then highlighted the cool and calm way the 2012 US Open champion played on Saturday as he seeks a first win since 2013.

“No matter where I am at in the tournament I hate dropping shots at the last, so this was a bonus – to finish the day with a great save does give me a little bit of momentum going into Sunday,” said Simpson.

“The game plan will be the same. I haven’t looked at the leaderboard, but I am sure it is nice. Guys will come out firing tomorrow. I have to keep doing what I am doing.”

Moving day for Woods Spieth

Tiger Woods<!–

Tiger Woods is a two-time winner of the Players Championship

Woods and Spieth gave the early morning galleries something to cheer about with their best-ever rounds at TPC Sawgrass.

Twice a winner of the Players Championship, Woods was eight under after 12 holes and admitted after that he “could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 under for the day”.

The 14-time major champion dropped his only shot of the day at the par-four 14th after failing to make the green in two and then two-putting for a five but it was still good enough for his best round of the year.

“I finally got off to a good start in birdieing the first couple of holes and I just kept it rolling,” Woods said. “I played a lot of good shots out there and it was nice to see a few putts go in.”

Spieth, who had made the cut at the Players for the first time since 2014, had six birdies on the back nine but also signed for his only bogey at the 14th.

“If you don’t miss a putt inside of 15 feet, golf is pretty easy,” said Spieth.

“I felt free. I came out feeling good and playing aggressively. When you are 14 back on a Saturday morning, there’s not a whole lot of pressure.”

Jason Dufner (66), Jimmy Walker (70), Xander Schauffele (71), Jason Day (71) and Charl Schwartzel (73) sit tied fourth at nine under.

American Patrick Cantlay (74) began the day tied for second alongside Schwartzel, but slipped back into the group at eight under.

There will be in-play highlights and live text commentary of the final round from 19:00 BST on the BBC Sport website.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/44096139

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