PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A scrambling par on the final hole allowed Lee Westwood to keep the one-shot lead that he started with Saturday at The Players Championship. Only now he has a lot more company.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who had a six-under 66 to finish five shots off the lead, suddenly is back in the picture, along with that No. 1 ranking.

Tiger Woods, is not. He shot 71 and is 10 strokes behind.

Westwood, who fell two shots behind with six holes left in the third round, finished with a 2-under 70 to take a one-shot lead over Robert Allenby going into the final round at TPC Sawgrass.

Allenby was five shots behind when he walked off the 13th tee. He answered with a 6-iron to just outside 12 feet on the par-5 16th for eagle, then a 12-foot birdie on the island-green 17th that curled into the side of the cup. He shot a 67 and will play in the final group. Westwood was at 14-under 202.

“The golf course changed a lot. It got really firm this afternoon,” Westwood said. “I thought I played well — gave myself a lot of chances, missed a couple, but all in all, I was pleased with the way I played.”

A month ago, Westwood had a one-shot lead over Mickelson going into the last round of the Masters.

On Saturday, Lefty began the day nine shots out of the lead, same as Woods.

They went opposite directions. Mickelson didn’t make a bogey until the final hole for a 66 to put himself back into the picture. The 10 players ahead of him have a combined 14 victories on the PGA Tour.

“I feel like things started to click a little bit today, and I think I’ve got one more low round in me,” Mickelson said.

To reach No. 1 for the first time in his career, Mickelson has to win and have Woods finish out of the top five. Woods did his part with a bogey-bogey finish and was tied for 45th.

Even for the 14 players separated by five shots, so much depends on Westwood and Allenby.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, the only player in the top 10 with a major, didn’t make a birdie until the ninth hole in his round of 69. He was at 12-under 204, along with Torrey Pines winner Ben Crane (68) and Francesco Molinari of Italy, who had a 71.

Heath Slocum, who won the opening playoff event last year against a cast of stars, ran off three birdies in four holes around the turn to reach 15 under until a three-putt from the fringe below a steep ridge on the 13th changed everything. He shot 72.

His poor finish put him at 11-under 205, three shots behind and tied with Tim Clark (66), Charley Hoffman (69) and Chris Stroud (66), a newcomer to this stage.


EUROPEAN TOUR: Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed shot a 9-under 63 for a six-stroke lead after the third round of the Italian Open at Turin.

Andersson Hed made 10 birdies to total 17-under 199. Preferred lies were used after heavy rain, so he couldn’t claim a course record at the Royal Park Roveri.


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