Westwood leads Allenby at Players
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2010 The Players Championship | Round Three | 09 May 2010
One hasn’t won a PGA Tour event for twelve years and the other nine years but Lee Westwood and Robert Allenby have both become such highly regarded players via their international achievements that they stand as the two most likely contenders to win the Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass tomorrow.
Westwood retained his one shot 36 hole lead following his third round of 70 while Allenby put together a very strong finishing burst to complete a round of 67 and get within one.
On a golf course that played significantly more difficult on day three, especially as the day progressed, Westwood struggled to break the shackles early on. He matched birdies with bogeys before a lovely up and down from behind the hole for birdie at the 9th had him out in 35 and at 13 under he shared the lead with Heath Slocum.
Slocum recovered from a bogey at the first to be out in 34 and when he added birdies at the 11th and 12th he moved two clear of the field. No sooner had he reached that point than things began to fall apart for the three times PGA Tour winner. A bogey at the 13th was followed by another at the 15th and when he dipped his 8th career ball into the water at the 17th, his lead had disappeared.
Like Slocum, Allenby recovered from an early bogey and by the time he reached the 16th hole he was at 10 under but still some way off the then lead of Slocum. His second at the par five finished just off the edge of the green, but only 14 feet from the hole, and when he made that he was within just one. At the dangerous 17th he holed an almost identical putt to move to 13 under and at that point actually had a share of the lead.
Westwood had essentially been treading water for much of the day but he hit a good second just off the green at the 16th and two putted for birdie to move ahead. He then safely negotiated the 17th before a brilliant escape from behind the right hand trees allowed to him to make par at the last and he finished the day one ahead of Allenby and two ahead of Lucas Glover, Francesco Molinari and Ben Crane.
Phil Mickelson kept his hopes of becoming the world number one for the first time alive when he posted a six under 66 to move to 9 under and although still five from the lead he could yet be a factor. Mickelson needs to win tomorrow if he is to replace Woods as the leading ranked player in the world.
Mickelson seemed a little edgy about the subject in his post round press conference.
“I don’t know why you keep asking about that. I mean, we’re right in the middle of a tournament here. That’s the last thing on my mind right now. I’m trying to get ready for tomorrow’s round and again, get in striking distance, and you keep changing the subject.”
Woods added a round of 71 to be at 4 under and is in 45th position.
Victory tomorrow for Westwood would be fitting reward for his outstanding consistency at the elite level in world golf over the past two years. He has been the dominant force in European golf for much of that time and has gone close to winning at the very highest level on several occasions recording top three finishes in all four of the major championships in that period.
Allenby has developed a level of consistency in his game in 2010 as a result of his switch to the claw grip in 2009. He has won numerous times internationally since his last PGA Tour win in the Marconi Pennsylvania Classic in 2001. Tomorrow not only provides the chance to secure not only his 5th PGA Tour title but his most significant by far. A win would also lift Allenby inside the top ten in world golf for the first time.
There is much at stake in addition to the US$1.7 million first prize on offer to the winner tomorrow and the final round of the Players Championship once again offers much intrigue.
Greg Chalmers and Adam Scott are 24th and James Nitties 55th.