Na snatches lead at Players

2012-05-13 10:16
Kevin Na (File)

Ponte Vedra Beach - Kevin Na drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to snatch the outright lead from Matt Kuchar after the third round of the Players Championship on Saturday as Rickie Fowler made his move with a six-under par 66, the best round of the day.

Na, frequently taking excessive practice strokes and often backing away from his shot, otherwise struck the ball sweetly in carding a bogey free 68 to reach 12-under for the tournament.

The South Korean-born American met with rules official Mark Russell after his round to discuss his slow play but said there were no problems.

"We were talking about the pace of play. We were on the clock quite a bit. Everything's okay," said Na who blamed his problems due to a lack of comfort with his balance.

"As ugly as it is and as painful as it is, believe me, it is really tough for me and I am trying," he said.

Fellow American Kuchar had a mixed day, combining seven birdies with four bogeys, including one on the notoriously difficult 'island green' 17th, for a round of 69 to finish a shot behind Na.

"I knew it was going to be a tricky day, there were going to be a lot of bogeys and dangers around every corner," said Kuchar, who tied for third at last month's Masters.

"It was a great day in terms of not letting the bad holes bother me. I think that is one of my strong suits and today it came in really helpful."

Kuchar and Na began the day in a three-way tie for the lead with Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion. Johnson shot a one-over 73 to slip back into equal fourth with Ben Curtis (70)at seven-under.

It was a sign of the difficulty of the course that Na and Kuchar were the only players to post three rounds in the 60s and Na was one of only three players, along with Curtis and Carl Pettersson, that were bogey free on Saturday.

While Kuchar and Na jostled for the outright lead, most of the buzz around a sun-drenched TPC Sawgrass layout surrounded Fowler.

The 23-year-old Californian, who claimed his first PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow last week, racked up seven birdies before spoiling his otherwise flawless round with a bogey at the last, missing a putt from less than four feet.

He ended the day perfectly poised, two shots behind Fowler and one behind Kuchar.

For most of the round, Fowler, who would become the tournament's youngest winner, was right on target, and even when he got in trouble, he remained unflustered.

On the fifth hole, he drove into a bunker, 200 yards from the pin, but blasted out of the sand to just four feet and made birdie.

"I drove it well, put myself in position off the tee, which is the key here, no matter what, especially with the wind blowing today. I was able to play out of the short grass as much as possible," said Fowler.

"Other than bogeying the last, I'd have to say it was a fairly perfect round."

Tiger Woods made an even-par 72 and was two-under for the tournament, tied for 34th place. Phil Mickelson signed for a 69 to climb 16 places to be equal 14th.

Spain's Sergio Garcia made a double bogey on the par-five second hole to tumble back to a tie for last place but recovered to finish with a four-under 68 leaving him level with Mickelson.

Leading third round scores from the US PGA Tour's Players Championship on Saturday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (par-72):

204 Kevin Na (U.S.) 67 69 68 205 Matt Kuchar (U.S.) 68 68 69 207 Rickie Fowler (U.S.) 72 69 66 209 Ben Curtis (U.S.) 68 71 70

Zach Johnson (U.S.) 70 66 73 210 Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela) 68 74 68

Brian Davis (Britain) 68 70 72

Jonathan Byrd (U.S.) 68 70 72

Martin Laird (Britain) 65 73 72 211 Johnson Wagner (U.S.) 69 73 69

Bo Van Pelt (U.S.) 71 70 70

Blake Adams (U.S.) 66 73 72

Charlie Wi (South Korea) 71 67 73 212 Sergio Garcia (Spain) 73 71 68

David Mathis (U.S.) 72 71 69

Carl Pettersson (Sweden) 71 72 69

Phil Mickelson (U.S.) 71 71 70

Martin Kaymer (Germany) 73 69 70

Jeff Maggert (U.S.) 70 71 71

Ian Poulter (Britain) 65 76 71

Tim Clark (South Africa) 71 70 71

Jimmy Walker (U.S.) 71 70 71

Brendon De Jonge (Zimbabwe) 69 71 72

Kevin Streelman (U.S.) 72 68 72

Kevin Stadler (U.S.) 68 71 73

Adam Scott (Australia) 68 70 74 213 Harrison Frazar (U.S.) 68 76 69

John Rollins (U.S.) 72 72 69

Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 70 73 70

Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 71 71 71

John Huh (U.S.) 75 66 72

Luke Donald (Britain) 72 69 72

Bill Haas (U.S.) 68 71 74 214 Bryce Molder (U.S.) 72 72 70

Pat Perez (U.S.) 69 75 70

Brian Gay (U.S.) 71 72 71

Chris Couch (U.S.) 72 71 71

Spencer Levin (U.S.) 74 68 72

Tiger Woods (U.S.) 74 68 72

Jim Furyk (U.S.) 72 70 72

Tom Gillis (U.S.) 70 71 73

Michael Thompson (U.S.) 68 71 75

Read more on:    players championship  |  golf

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Who will win the 2016 edition of the Ryder Cup?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.