Struggling Na closes with birdie to seize Players lead
A tense Kevin Na curled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to grab a one-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar after Saturday's third round of the $9.5 million Players Championship.other Updated: May 14, 2012 02:00 IST
A tense Kevin Na curled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to grab a one-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar after Saturday's third round of the $9.5 million Players Championship.
Kuchar found the water off the tee at the island-green 17th hole but salvaged a bogey and then sank a 12-foot par putt at 18 to remain within one stroke of his compatriot entering the final round at the TPC at Sawgrass.
‘To make that, get up and down for bogey at 17 and save that at 18, was really big,” Kuchar said. “Exciting position to be in. I feel like my game is evolving and I have a real chance to win.”
Na's troubles were typified at the 14th tee where he hesitated, made a complete swing well above the ball, began another swing only to stop and yell at himself, then finally smashed the ball deftly into the fairway.
But on a windy day, Na was one of only three players not to make a bogey.
He birdied the par-3 third, par-4 12th and sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th to grab a share of the lead just moments after Kuchar bogeyed 17.
American Rickie Fowler, coming off a win last week at Quail Hollow, charged into third on 207 with a 66. Americans Ben Curtis and Zach Johnson shared fifth on 209.
Fowler, who began the day five strokes off the lead, made an early charge with birdies at the par-5 second, par-3 third and par-4 fifth.
Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner who has struggled since winning at Bay Hill in March, fired a par-72 to stand on 214, taking bogeys at the par-4 seventh and 10th holes before answering with birdies at the 11th and par-3 13th.