Kaymer and Spieth out in front
Published 11/05/2014 | 08:07
Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth share the lead going into the final round of the £6million Players Championship after Spieth kept his remarkable scoring streak alive on Saturday.
Spieth has not dropped a shot all week - his last bogey came at the third hole of the final round of his previous event - and scrambled par on the 14th, 16th and 18th to return a 71.
The par save from 13 feet on the last brought a fist-pump from the 20-year-old American, who said: "I wanted to stay bogey-free. It would be really cool to play the whole tournament that way and that should be my goal tomorrow, with a couple more putts falling.
"It was an off-day ball-striking for me, I lost my driver and three-wood and was playing from the trees but got a couple of really nice breaks and bounces."
Kaymer narrowly missed his own par putt on the 18th to shoot a 72 and finish alongside Spieth on 12 under par, with 2008 champion Sergio Garcia and Australian John Senden three shots behind.
Lee Westwood is another two shots back after a 71 left him on seven under par alongside Italy's Francesco Molinari, whose 67 was the joint lowest score of the day.
Kaymer, who had started the day one ahead of Spieth after rounds of 63 and 69, said: "It was very, very tricky today. It was tough to hit it close because it was really gusty but I am still in the lead with Jordan."
Asked about the final round, the former world number one added: "I think it's very important that you don't forget to enjoy the opportunity that you are going to get because you don't get to play in the final groups in such a big event very often.
"It felt a bit like the Ryder Cup because we are playing in America and I wasn't the favourite. It's a big challenge tomorrow. The crowds are enjoying it and it's tough to beat, but I can just take care of my own golf."
For the second year running Garcia was left to rue falling foul of the infamous par-three 17th, the Spaniard having dumped two balls into the water surrounding the island green in the final round last year when tied for the lead.
Twelve months on it was only a bogey caused by a three-putt from 25ft, and Garcia said: "I'm looking forward to the final round. I am excited about it and I'm going to give it my best shot like last year.
"Hopefully I will be in the same situation and able to handle the 17th and 18th better."
Justin Rose will also be hoping to handle the 18th better after suffering a double-bogey six on Saturday, the US Open champion penalised two shots after his ball moved as he set up to play his third shot from the back of the green.
Rose would have escaped with a one-shot penalty if he had replaced his ball, but appeared uncertain that the ball had moved after consulting with playing partner Garcia.
That all added up to a third round of 73 and left Rose seven shots off the lead on five under par.
Much earlier in the day, Rory McIlroy continued his week of two halves as he compiled a 69 after producing a battling finish just to avoid a fourth missed cut in five appearances at Sawgrass.
Rounds of 70 and 74 meant an early start for McIlroy on Saturday and he again struggled on the front nine, making a bogey on the first, double bogey on the fourth and a bogey on the sixth before birdies on the seventh and eighth took him to the turn in 38.
As on Friday, the back nine came to the former world number one's rescue and birdies on the 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th and 18th mean McIlroy has so far taken 117 strokes on the front nine and 96 on the back nine, a difference of 21 shots at an average of seven per day.
Starting from the 10th in his opening round, the two-time major winner was five under par after 11 holes before three late bogeys, while he covered the front nine in 42 on Friday before rallying with vital birdies on the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th.
"If I had just kept it around even par for the front nine, I'd be up near the leaders," McIlroy told reporters. "I'm really happy with how I've been able to come back the last couple of days, but it's also a little frustrating that I've had to come back because I feel like I'm playing good enough to not have these little stretches of bad holes."
World number two Adam Scott had also made the cut on level par after a second round of 67 and matched McIlroy's 69 to join the Northern Irishman on three under in a share of 28th.
That kept alive Scott's hopes of overtaking Tiger Woods at the top of the world rankings with a top-16 finish, although Henrik Stenson can also claim top spot with a top-six finish and was joint 13th alongside Rose on five under.