PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Henrik Stenson of Sweden birdied the ninth hole after a two-hour weather delay to extend his lead to two shots over Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia in Saturday’s third round of the Players Championship.
Stenson, the 2009 champion, took advantage of early bogeys by overnight leader Garcia and world number one Woods to seize the lead with a birdie at the sixth hole that lifted him to 11 under par for the tournament.
Two holes later a warning horn sounded due to the threat of lightning. Upon his return to the course, Stenson extended his lead on the par-five ninth to reach 12-under.
Woods, Garcia were at 10-under through eight holes and were joined on that total by big-hitting Australian Marc Leishman, who birdied the par-five 11th after returning to the course.
Tied for fifth on nine under par were 49-year-old Jeff Maggert (66) and 25-year-old David Lingmerth of Sweden (through 9).
Early starters had fired away at the pins, but as the greens got firmer and the breezes blew stronger, the top contenders had more difficulty scoring.
After the storm passed through the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, the greens had been newly softened by rain and the air had gone still giving players hope for conditions receptive to scoring.
Garcia, the 2008 champion, began the round with a one-shot lead over Woods, who won in 2001, in what is generally referred to as golf’s fifth major.
A two-shot swing on the par-five second hole put Woods into the lead on 11-under when the American birdied and the Spaniard took bogey.
Garcia glared over towards at Woods after the Spaniard was distracted on his backswing during his second shot from the fairway by the crowd’s roar when the world number one pulled a five-wood for his escape from the trees on the left.
Woods three-putted the par-three third hole to fall back into a tie at 10 under par.
Maggert had joined in a four-way tie for the lead at 10-under after he birdied the par-five 16th but he took his first bogey of the day at the 18th to slip back.
Editing by Gene Cherry