Stenson Surges To Top Before Storms Arrive
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Sergio Garcia lost his lead in two holes at The Players Championship, and he said it didn’t help playing with Tiger Woods.
The third round Saturday was delayed when thunderstorms moved toward the north Florida coast. Garcia and Woods, in the final group of a tournament for the first time since the 2006 British Open, finished only six holes. Henrik Stenson, playing the ninth hole, was at 11-under par and leading by one shot.
The round was expected to resume at 6 p.m. EDT.
Garcia, who started with a one-shot lead over Woods, was in the fairway on the par-5 second hole. Woods hooked his tee shot deep into the trees, where he was surrounded by a thick wall of fans. Garcia heard a big cheer as he swung, and his ball sailed well to the right under some trees, making it nearly impossible to get onto the green.
He punched it out short, chipped it 8 feet past the hole and two-putted for a bogey. Woods hit a fairway metal off the pine needles and into a bunker, blasted out to 10 feet and rolled in the birdie putt to briefly take the lead.
The big cheer that disrupted Garcia was the crowd reacting to Woods switching from an iron to the fairway metal for his second shot, a risky play.
Garcia looked over to the crowd as his ball was headed well right of the green. In a television interview during the storm delay, Garcia implicated Woods.
“I’m not saying he didn’t see that I was a ready,” Garcia said. “You do have a feel when the other player is ready to hit. He must have pulled a 5-wood or a 3-wood, and the crowd started screaming. That didn’t help very much.”
Woods three-putted from long range on the par-3 third and fell back into a tie with Garcia.
Stenson, the 2009 Players champion who was two groups ahead of them, made a 3-foot birdie on the fourth, missed from 5 feet on the fifth for birdie, and then rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the sixth to take the outright lead.
Jeff Maggert also had a share of the lead at one point. He made bogey on the 18th and wound up with a 66. Maggert was the clubhouse leader at 9-under 207.
Garcia, with a wild swing of emotions whenever he plays, looked subdued on the first tee. He went out to the practice green and leaned on his bag in the minutes before his tee time, mostly watching Woods chip and putt.
Woods and Garcia have never had a friendly relationship. Woods was said to be put off when Garcia celebrated wildly after winning a Monday night “Battle at Bighorn” exhibition in 2000. During the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, which Woods won wire-to-wire, Garcia complained that play should have been stopped in the second round because of the rain.
“If Tiger Woods would have been out there, it would have been called,” Garcia said that day.
Saturday was the sixth time Woods and Garcia have played together in the final group on the weekend. Woods went on to win the previous five tournaments.
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