• The Players Championship, Round Three

Na leads Kuchar as Fowler makes move

ESPN staff
May 12, 2012
Rickie Fowler was the star of Saturday © Getty Images


Kevin Na will go into the final round of The Players Championship with a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar - although both players will have to watch out for a surging Rickie Fowler.

Na, who has a top-three finish in the event at TPC Sawgrass to his credit already in his career, carded a third round of 68 to take the lead in the event - finding a birdie at the last to slip in ahead of Kuchar at 12-under for the tournament.

Kuchar looked likely to hold the lead ahead of Sunday's final round for much of the back nine, but dropped one in the water at the par-three 17th as a bogey saw him slip to 11-under after a round of 69. That came after a remarkable run of holes - between the eighth and 15th, the American had six birdies, two bogeys and no pars as he and the course went blow for blow.

Both players will need to be wary of Fowler, however, who reawakened the possibility of winning back-to-back tournaments with a third round 66 to burst into contention at nine-under.

The 23-year-old, who claimed his maiden PGA Tour title at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, made six birdies in his opening 11 holes, before adding another at the short par-five 16th.

He did slip up at the last, failing to get up-and-down from the side of the green, but that only served as a slightly sour end to an impressive round.

"I had some fun out there today," Fowler said. "I mean, other than bogeyed the last, I'd have to say it was a fairly perfect round."

Ben Curtis and Zach Johnson are both two shots further back, with Englishman Brian Davis among a number of names at six-under who have a chance of victory with a fast start on Sunday.

Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are both four-under, alongside former winner Adam Scott, after rounds of 70 and 68 respectively.

Earlier in the day, Tiger Woods could only manage a level-par round of 72 that left two-under for the tournament - well adrift of the leaders and any chance of victory.

The American, looking to make a fast start to bring him back into contention, reached the turn two-over after two slight mistakes, but recovered those shots at the start of the back nine as another round of consistent ball-striking failed to convert into a low score.

That puts him a shot behind Luke Donald, who needs to finish inside the top four in order to reclaim the world No. 1 spot from Rory McIlroy. The Englishman could not make a real impression on the top of the leaderboard, however, as he matched Woods' mediocre Saturday round.

Lee Westwood, meanwhile, remains one-under after a round of 74 - although at least he fared better than rookie Harris English, who went into the third round in touch with the leaders, but succumbed to a round of 79.

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