Scottie Scheffler wins a bet with his caddie, Tom Hoge’s record round and Aaron Rai comes up aces among takeaways from third round at 2023 Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida. On Saturday, Scotty Scheffler won a year’s wager with his caddy. On Sunday, he hopes to win the Players Championship, return to number one in the world and earn the biggest check on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler hit a 7-under-65 at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday and took a 54-hole lead with a total of 14-202, two strokes ahead of Australian Min Woo Lee.

Scheffler, who should have completed his second round of 69 in the morning, took the lead with a birdie eagle start in the afternoon. On his second shot on the second par-5 hole, he picked up the pitch from the rough and shook the 62-foot throw before lashing out at Ted Scott’s caddy.

“I had a decent lie there in the rough and I was able to flop almost exactly where I wanted to hit,” he said. “I was definitely lucky to see it happen and then Teddy and I had a year-long deal where I just beat him and he owes me something, but he didn’t have any of that and so he owes me. . It’s an IOU from Teddy.

Scheffler made his only bogey in seventh, but that barely slowed him down as he bounced back with successive birdies. He birdied out on two of his last three holes, the lowest of his career at the stadium course and claiming his seventh career lead/second lead at 54 holes on the Tour. The reigning Masters champion is looking to win for the second time this season – he defended his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February – and oust John Rahm from world number one. But Scheffler knows that victory will take care of the latter.

“I think ranking is just an algorithm,” he said. “For me, I would rather win the tournament than go back to number one in the world. So tomorrow I’ll focus on just going out and playing a solid round of golf, and ratings will be ratings.”

Lee makes a name for himself

2023 Players Championship
2023 Players Championship

Min Woo Lee of Australia reacts to his birdie attempt on the 17th green during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Min Woo Lee is trying to catch up with her sister Minji, who has already won two major tournaments on the LPGA Tour. On Saturday, he hit 6-66 at TPC Sawgrass, moving up to 12-unders in a week and just two strokes behind leader Scotty Sheffler.

The 24-year-old Australian won the 66th final round at the Honda Classic, putting him on the Players course with no chance, finishing 50th in the official world golf rankings that Sunday.

“It would be foolish to take 51st place in the ranking and not get into it,” he said. “I think it ended up being one eighth of a ranking point roll. Things have been favorable to me, and you should make the most of it.

Was he ever. Lee’s round started with a bang. He hit from 112 yards for an eagle on the first hole.

“I made a good wedge at 55 (degrees) and did one jump and backspin in the hole. So it wasn’t a perfect shot, but it looked good on TV,” he said, joking later, “I wouldn’t say I scaled it down; let it stay between us.

Lee pulled ahead to the tune of 5-31. He added back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th and only a bogey on the 18th when he landed a 6-footer that ruined an otherwise clean card on Saturday.

Lee, who won the 2021 Scottish Open on the DP World Tour, plays golf at the course most of the time, but he has a desire to make a name for himself in America. He is trying to become the third player in tournament history to make the Players his first Tour victory.

“I don’t think the people who played on the DP World Tour were surprised to see him compete anyway,” said Tommy Fleetwood. “But yes, he clearly has a bright future ahead of him.”

“He has no weakness,” said Aaron Rai. “I think he will be a star on the PGA Tour in the coming years.

He quickly became a fan favorite this week, with fans chanting his name as he walked towards 17th and 18th greenery.

“Hearing the chants of the crowd is all I ask,” he said. Yes, it was just a lot of fun today. Did a lot of the right things and hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”

Hoge’s Record Day

2023 Players Championship
2023 Players Championship

(LR) Justin Thomas of the USA congratulates Tom Hodge of the USA on the ninth green after his course record of 62 during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach. , Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

After shooting course record 10 to 62 years on the stadium field at TPC Sawgrass, Tom Hoge was craving a cheeseburger.

He feasted on birdies all day, 10 in total, last 10 foot birdie, abandoned on the ninth to break record previously held by nine golfers on the Pete Dai field, which is better known for bringing players to their knees.

On Thursday, Hoge limped home at 6+78 and booked a ticket home to Dallas, assuming he would miss the cut. But he rallied to hit 68 on Friday, and with play suspended due to inclement weather, he was sweating all over waiting to see if he could hit the number, which he did with the number.

“It was only when Eric Cole patched up the last hole until it was actually confirmed. I felt like I hit some really good split shots yesterday when I was right on the cut line trying to go all the way from 15 to 18. So I felt like my game was fine, as stupid as it was. say I might have skipped editing,” Hoge said. “I was just lucky that I had time to play this morning. I was just trying to go out and make as many birds as I could.”

Rain on Friday softened the grass and left the pitch vulnerable. The third round average of 69.573 was the lowest average of any round in tournament history.

Hoge, who started from the back nine, scored a birdie in a bunch. He drove green on a par-4 12th two strikes for the birdie and downed an 8-iron at 4 feet at 15, one in eight shots within 12 feet in a day. He hit three in a row in the top nine, starting with a 19-footer in the second.

Hoge exhausted a 24-foot birdie on a par-3 eighth to go 9-under on the day, then wedged in to 10 feet on his last to score 31 on both sides and 62 without the bogey.

Hoge, who loves to eat sweets for breakfast, had only one complaint.

“The food in the players’ restaurants is too healthy,” he said. “There is a QR code for us; I registered this complaint. They need food, just like the rest of the obese people in America.”

He doesn’t really like breakfast, but lunch in the players’ canteen contains too many vegetables, he said.

“I’m very hungry right now,” he said. “I’m ready for a cheeseburger or something.”

Fleetwood gets into an argument

2023 Players Championship
2023 Players Championship

Tommy Fleetwood waits on the 18th lawn during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yizell-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Fleetwood was 4 over 25 holes at the Players Championship and is in danger of missing the cut. According to him, he was “terrible on the grass”.

“Yesterday at the beginning of the round, I made absolute crap out of it,” he said.

This went on until he leaked a 24-foot bird kick into an eight and flipped the script. It was the first of three birdies in a row before play was suspended on Friday due to inclement weather. He picked up where he left off and rallied to hit 2 to 70 to break through. The floodgates opened and Fleetwood took advantage by playing a 23-hole stretch at the age of 13.

Fleetwood made eight birdies and only one bogey – coincidentally No. 8 – to run 7 to 65 and improve it to 9 to 207 and a fourth header tie in the final round, five strokes back. Fleetwood has won the DP World Tour five times and has been a Ryder Cup hero in Europe, but he’s still looking for his first PGA Tour win.

“It was a goal, a dream, an incentive while I was playing here,” he said. “Yes, of course, I would love to do it by now. I would love to do this multiple times. But I didn’t, so there’ll be another chance tomorrow.

Paradise rises

2023 Players Championship
2023 Players Championship

Aaron Rae of England talks to caddy Jason Timmis before hitting the seventh tee during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Aaron Rye matched leader Scotty Scheffler’s 65, but even Scheffler couldn’t match Rye’s last stint, a 4-1-3 finish.

The highlight, of course was an ace on par-3 17th holemarking the first Players Championship with multiple aces at 17th. On Thursday, Hayden Buckley hit one. Rai did it in a similar fashion, hitting his shot about 15 feet from the front left pin before it turned back and hit the hole.

“Felt really good with my gap wedge,” Rai said. “Great shot, looked great in the air and very happy that he hit the target. It was an incredible moment.”

Rai, the 28-year-old Englishman with two DP World Tour victories to his credit, is tied for fourth in the 9-under 209 ranking with Fleetwood and first-round leader Chad Ramey. Rai recently closed in a house just five minutes from TPC Sawgrass and has been playing regularly on the course for the past year. This is not even his first ace at the stadium. During his first round on the field, he hit an ace on the third par-3 hole.

“Being here at Sawgrass and maybe having a chance tomorrow is an amazing opportunity,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous and a little apprehensive, but I’m looking forward to it. This is an amazing opportunity.”

The story originally appeared on GolfWeek.


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