It may seem difficult to believe, given the many achievements of his storied career, but Tiger Woods accomplished something he had never done before Saturday at the Players Championship.
Woods’s 7-under-par 65 was not only his lowest round of the year, but it was also a career low at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Woods, who won the Players in 2001 and 2013, carded 6-under 66s in 2000 and 2001, also in the third round, for his previous low scores at the Stadium course.
Matching Woods’s 65 was Jordan Spieth, 24, among the many who have been called an heir apparent to Woods. Spieth, whose penchant for getting ridiculously hot at just the right time was on display again, made six birdies on the back nine and would have come in with a 30 if not for a bogey on the par-4 14th.
Woods carded a 30 on the front nine, with birdies on four of his first five holes. He also made bogey on No. 14, the lone blemish on his card.
Upon their respective finishes, Woods and Spieth sat comfortably in eighth place at 8-under. That was before leader Webb Simpson teed off for the day, though. Given how Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, has played thus far, the Woods-Spieth duo, which will be an actual pairing in the final round Sunday, will have a lot more ground to cover Sunday.
Simpson tied the course record at Sawgrass on Friday with a 63 (that included a double bogey on the famed No. 17) and a record five-shot lead through two rounds. His scorching play continued Saturday with Woods and Spieth both in the clubhouse; Simpson’s 68 moved him to 19 under, allowing him to open a seven-shot lead over his closest competitor, Danny Lee.
There’s still plenty of time for Simpson to fall back to the pack. But right now it feels like as impressive as Woods and Spieth’s third rounds were, they’ll be footnotes at golf’s unofficial fifth major.
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