PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. Nick Watney and Graeme McDowell were atop the leaderboard after a short day of work Saturday in The Players Championship. The winner of golfs richest prize will have to work overtime.
After storms that delayed the third round by 4½ hours and softened the TPC Sawgrass, Watney and McDowell came out firing in the twilight to reach 11-under par through only five holes when play was suspended by darkness.
The biggest move all day might have been a pine that toppled by a big gust during the thunderstorms.
David Toms, the 36-hole leader who had to wait until dinner time to tee off, only made it through five holes. He made all pars and probably was happy to stop. Toms had birdie putts inside 12 feet on every hole two of them inside 7 feet and missed them all to stay at 10 under. Steve Stricker also was at 10 under after two birdies.
Only 40 players managed to finish the third round.
That included Ian Poulter, who had reason to be exhausted for other reasons. Realizing that play was going to be stopped, and not wanting to return at 7:45 a.m. today to finish one hole, he sprinted to the 17th green and quickly two-putted for par, then ran off toward the 18th tee and hit his tee shot as the group in front was just leaving the tee.
Its a common move in tournament golf once any player in a group tees off, the entire group is allowed to finish the hole.
Poulter finished with a bogey for a 74, but at least he gets to sleep in.
So, too, does his playing partner, Dustin Johnson, who shot 73 on Saturday.
A little 300-yard sprint is well worth four hours in bed, Poulter said.
The third round is to resume this morning, and threesomes then will be sent out in the afternoon. With some 30 holes remaining and so many top players in the hunt, rarely has a final day been this wide open.
I could see someone going and shooting 62, 63 (today), McDowell said. I think theres a low score on this golf course, depending on what the wind does (today). But it really has opened the field up a little bit. Its going to be exciting.