Kirk surges to Players lead, McIlroy lurking

Sat May 9, 2015 8:10pm EDT
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By Ben Everill

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida May 9 (Reuters) - Three birdies in his final four holes catapulted American Chris Kirk into the lead after the third round of the Players Championship on Saturday.

But he had 24 players within four shots of his 10-under 206 total at TPC Sawgrass.

Kirk fired a four-under 68 to lead the $10 million tournament, a feat that appeared unlikely after he bogeyed the 13th and 14th holes.

But birdies on 15, 16 and 17 helped the three-time tour winner out of the logjam.

He led by one from Americans Kevin Kisner (67), Ben Martin (68) and Bill Haas (68).

Spain’s 2008 Players champion Sergio Garcia (67), Americans Justin Thomas (65), Scott Brown (69), Jerry Kelly (72), Kevin Na (72) and Canada’s David Hearn (70) were tied fifth at eight under.

“I was really happy with the way I played today. I definitely hit my driver a lot better than I have the last couple days, and then the rest of my game was still pretty sharp,” Kirk said.

World number one Rory McIlroy is just four shots off the pace after his 70 left him at six under in a tie for 17th.   Continued...

May 9, 2015; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Chris Kirk hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the third round of The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY