Webb Simpson increases Players lead to seven shots

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.

It took a bit of good fortune for Woods to even make the cut at The Players Championship, as that required a break when Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, two of the top golfers in the world, both bogeyed the 18th hole on Day 2.

Woods shot a 7-under 65 in the third round Saturday, besting his previous low score on the Stadium Course by a stroke.

"Realistically, I probably could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 for the day", Woods said. "I played a lot of good shots out there today and it was nice to see a few putts go in".

"I said to my caddie I would like to play the golf course he's playing", Jason Day said.

Woods has spent the past two weeks struggling to find his putting touch and unable to give himself enough birdie opportunities. 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. Through Friday at Sawgrass, he had an eagle and just four birdies.

Tiger Woods walks off the 18th hole during the third round of the Players Championship golf tournament. With a front pin in the bowl, he hit sand wedge and listened to thousands of fans surrounding the green cheer as the ball trickled down the slope to three feet for birdie. He blasted to 8 feet but couldn't convert.

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It may seem hard 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. "He's got control, the shape, hit some nice little cuts, a couple nice little draws".

"Unfortunately, the part of the ball that was showing was just all the white and dimples", said Fowler. Half the time when I miss fairways here I end up thinking to myself "how have you done that, it's bloody massive!"

Hughes, 27, said he grew up watching and idolizing Woods, and it was a thrill to be paired with him.

"It wasn't a mistake, " Simpson said. "But I can assure you, for me it was goosebumps and shivers out there hearing all the noise and playing with him". "With this heat and humidity", Woods told reporters, "and these greens as soft as they are, these guys" - the leaders still hadn't teed off by the time Woods finished - "are gonna tear this place apart". On the last hole we had 196 and it was just a nine-iron.

Lee was at 204, a score that would have led The Players in all but three of the years since it moved to May in 2007. "I don't think any lead is safe". 10 to 15 feet today, and anywhere inside, which was probably the first time this year that's been the case, " Spieth said. "Today was more 'I'm in the lead, I'm in the last group.' You have to hit shots and putts". As the wind picked up later in the day, scores stayed relatively high, making Simpson's round that much more impressive.

That pushed his lead over the rest of the field to a preposterous eight strokes, but it shrank slightly coming home.

The signs were not promising for McIlroy early on when he chunked a chip into a bunker at the second, although he made a good up-and-down for par which he repeated following a poor tee shot to the short third. "So it just shows you where it actually matters, and that's on the greens".

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