Holmes, Stanley lead Players after 54 holes, Garcia four back


Kyle Stanley watches his shot from the 15th tee during the third round of The Players Championship golf tournament Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Oosthuizen's time as outright leader in the clubhouse was brief as Stanley, playing in the group behind, birdied two of his last three holes to also return a 66 featuring eight birdies including three in a row from the 15th. American J.B. Holmes is alone in third after shooting a three-under 69.

Numerous big names have work to do, defending champion Jason Day trailing by seven shots, with Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy nine behind. "Nothing really fazes him and there's a lot of depth behind too". I've got to play a lot of awesome places, see a lot of cool things and win some tournaments.

He did not, and despite his ups and downs on the golf course, Stanley is happy with his current form, including two top-17 finishes in his last three starts.

Johnson and McIlroy at least are still in the game.

Jordan Spieth failed to make the cut. He chalked that up to not being able to handle this strand of grass when it gets firm and crusty. Spieth's last hope ended with a tee shot that bounced at the back of the island-green 17th and into the water.

He'll start Sunday four shots behind the leaders and chasing history. "For a professional, this is definitely one of the courses that you try and up your game and just give it that little bit more for the week and try and win the championship".

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Yes, there were plenty of those.

The par-3 17th hole, with a back pin and 25 more yards of distance then in the first round, turned tiger and was the second-hardest hole on the course.

Si Woo Kim was bogey-free until he hit a shot off the bulkhead and into the water on the par-5 16th and missed a short par putt. Fellow Englishman Paul Casey is one shot further back. His misadventures left him tied for 44th, 11 strokes off the lead. I got a little bit of a read from Louis (Oosthuizen)'s putt.

Defending champion Jason Day didn't make up any ground, either, trading birdies and bogeys for a 72.

Apart from winning the 2010 British Open by seven strokes at the home of golf, St. Andrews, Oosthuizen lost two majors in the playoffs, the 2015 British Open, which was also at St. Andrews, and the 2012 U.S. Masters. Rickie Fowler shot 74 and joined Johnson and McIlroy at 144.

And right behind them was Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who was 4 over through six holes in the opening round and began his recovery project with a hole-in-one on the infamous 17th. Stanley followed by saving par from behind the green with a 5-foot putt. The only player not to drop a shot, the Englishman displayed his huge experience by dealing with hostile winds that swept the course for most of his round. That still doesn't change the nature of the TPC Sawgrass, which can penalize a slight miss with a big number.

Poulter, whose last victory was at the 2012 World Golf Championships event in China, looked to lose his United States tour playing rights before a recalculation of points earned on a medical exemption showed the 41-year-old Englishman had done enough to keep his card.

On Friday, Oosthuizen and Stanley showed they were the class of the field.

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