Players Championship Golf

Scottie Scheffler reacts after missing a putt on the fifth hole Saturday during the third round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Scheffler will take a two-stroke lead into the final round. Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler capped a long day of 26 holes with one last birdie Saturday that gave him a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead at The Players Championship, with no one else from the top 10 in the world within seven shots of him.

That might not make the final round any easier, given the nature of the TPC Sawgrass as it dries out from rain that led to a delay.

Min Woo Lee of Australia, the younger brother of U.S. Women’s Open champion Minjee Lee, stayed with Scheffler stride-for-stride after holing out from 131 yards on the opening hole. His only bogey came at the end with a three-putt bogey, giving him a 66.

Lee only got into The Players Championship two weeks ago when he narrowly stayed in the top 50 after the Honda Classic. Now he’s in the final group with the Masters champion. Scheffler was at 14-under 202.

Cam Davis of Australia had a 67 and was four shots behind, followed by a group five back that included Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Rai of England, who made a hole-in-one on the 17th. It was the first time the island green has yielded two aces in the same week. Chad Ramey made one in the opening round.

For Scheffler, who won the Phoenix Open in February, a victory would send him back to No. 1 in the world. Scheffler referred to the ranking as “just an algorithm.” What matters is winning, and all his wins so far have come against some of the strongest fields in golf.


Jon Rahm, the current No. 1 and three-time winner this year, withdrew before the second round because of a stomach ailment. Rory McIlroy, at No. 3, missed the cut with rounds of 76-73.

Storms kept half the field from finishing the second round on Friday. Scheffler returned at 7 a.m. with eight holes to play, made a pair of birdies to get within two-shots of 36-hole leader Adam Svensson, and then swapped turns at the top with Lee in the third round.

Tom Hoge set a record on the Players Stadium Course when he holed a 10-foot putt for a 10-under 62. Nine players had previously shot 63 over a 30-year span, starting with Fred Couples in 1992 and most recently Dustin Johnson in 2022.

And to think Hoge had a flight booked home to the Dallas area for Saturday afternoon. He opened with a 78, bounced back with a 68, and figured his 2-over total would not be enough to make the cut when the second round finished Saturday morning.

The biggest help came from Luke List. He was short of the par-5 ninth green in three, some 40 feet from the hole. Get up-and-down for par, and the cut would be 1 over.

Instead, List made double bogey. Hoge was among 11 players who survived at plus-2. And he took it from there, missing only two greens and converting all the important putts.


“I finished yesterday afternoon, actually, and woke up this morning to watch the scores for a few hours there, and that was all over the place,” Hoge said. “So I just felt fortunate to have a tee time this morning. Just tried to go out and make as many birdies as I could.”

He didn’t know he shot a course record until he signed his card.

Whether that kind of score is available Sunday depends on how much wind continues to dry out the course. There was plenty of decent scoring, and plenty of water and trees that knocked back good runs.

Ramey, the 18-hole leader at 64, pumped two in the water on the 17th in his second round and fell back with a 75. He bounced right back Saturday afternoon with a 68 and was in the group five shots behind.

Svensson, meanwhile, made birdie on his final hole of the second round after hitting into a hospitality tent next to the ninth. That gave him a 67 and a two-shot lead, and he started with a birdie. But it got sideways quickly, particularly when he made a mess of the 14th and took triple bogey. He shot 75 and fell eight back.

Patrick Cantlay, the No. 4 player in the world, and Jordan Spieth also were eight behind. Cantlay overcame three bogeys on the front to shoot 68. Spieth carded a 66.

Lee has plenty at stake. The European Tour member can earn PGA Tour status with a win, and a decent finish is likely to move him high enough in the world rankings to get into the Masters. There’s also that small matter of a $4.5 million payoff to the winner.

“Sawgrass is scary,” he said. “There’s a lot of times where people have faltered and you don’t want to be one of those. But as long as you can control your emotions and go out there and have fun – which I did – it was fun playing really good golf.”

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