The world’s top ranked player remained on top of the The Players championship field at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra. Day finished Saturday’s third round at 14 under par, four shots ahead of Ken Duke, Hideki Matsuyama and Alex Cejka.
With heat and low humility, the course became much more difficult. With a bevy of rounds under par during the first two rounds, only six players were able to break par on Saturday.
Despite the fact Day was not one of the six, he still made enough shots to maintain his commanding lead. Day survived a near-disastrous front nine.
He missed a rather short putt on the third hold for bogey and then four-putted the sixth green for a double bogey. Another double bogey on the eighth hole left Day with only a one shot lead.
The 28-year-old Australian showed his mental toughness by coming back with a birdie on nine. He had two birdies on the back nine, but his most spectacular shot was a par-saving chip from off the green on the 15th.
Duke had the round of the day with a seven under par 65. On a day when greens were lightning fast, the 47-year-old native of Hope, Ark. (the same home town as Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee), Duke rolled in eight birdies, including six of his last seven holes.
“I kinda realized it was going to be fast today,” said Duke. “It seemed like I got the speed of (the greens). You just have to respect every putt out here. It got so hard. You can’t blink. You just can’t blink.”
Scotland’s Russell Knox won the Tin Cup award for Saturday. Coming to the iconic island par three 17th hold at eight under, the former Jacksonville Dolphin hit three consecutive shots in the water from the tee to take a sextuple bogey nine.
Like Kevin Costner’s character Roy McAvoy in the famous movie, Knox could have moved to a closer drop area, but kept firing away from the tee. It should be noted that Costner also starred in Waterworld.
Former Florida State star Jonas Blixt finished tied for eight at 209, seven shots behind Day. Among other notables, Rory McIlroy came in at five under par 211 while Pensacola’s Bubba Watson is at 214.
Day is attempting to go wire-to-wire by leading all four rounds. He has won each of his last four tournaments when leading after 54 holes.