PONTE VEDRA, Florida -- Paul Goydos is the unlikely
leader after three rounds at the Players Championship.
Goydos carded a 2-under 70 to take a one-shot lead over Kenny
Perry at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday.
Starting the day one shot back of Perry, Goydos seized the lead
with a 10-foot birdie at the par-3 17th island hole. He could
have had another birdie at the last, but lipped out a 15-footer
and settled for a round of 70.
"It's a hard golf course. In a dome, it's going to be a hard
golf course," Goydos said. "This golf course tests you in all
facets of your game. I passed for three days; hopefully I can
pass for a fourth."
Goydos has just two PGA Tour victories, including his last at
the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2007.
After moving to 7-under 209 total, Goydos was asked whether he
had ever held the 54-hole lead before: "No, but I've only been
on tour for 16 years," he quipped.
It's been an awful year thus far for Goydos, whose best finish
has been a tie for 25th place - last week at the Wachovia
Goydos also has missed five cuts in 12 starts, dropping to 159th
in the world rankings, but credits his putting for the
turnaround this week.
"I've been working with my putter for 30 years," Goydos said.
"That's what we do for a living. This has been a good week.
Things have dropped, for three rounds anyways. ... It's been one
of those weeks."
If Goydos can hold up Sunday and win his third career title,
he'll be a popular champion.
"I think that Paul Goydos is one of the nicest guys we have on
tour, and he's a very solid player," defending champion Phil
Mickelson said. "I, as well as all the players, are happy to
see him play well."
Perry signed for an even-par 72 and is in sole possession of
second place at 6-under 210 - two shots ahead of Spain's Sergio
The 47-year-old Perry is seeking to end a 68-event drought
without a victory, with his last title coming at the Bank of
America Colonial in 2005.
"All in all, it was a good day," Perry said. "I played good.
It was steady. I made a lot of nice clutch four- to
eight-footers for pars to keep the momentum going and the round
going. I made an incredible - they told me I was the only guy
to make birdie on 14 - so that was pretty neat."
Perry traditionally has struggled at this event, failing to
place inside the top 20 in 17 of his 19 career appearances. His
best finish here was a tie for third in 2004.
"This is my 20th time in this event, and that showed up today,"
Perry said. "That really helped me. I knew the greens and I
knew the breaks on the greens and felt very comfortable over my
Garcia (73) was tied for the lead after a birdie at the par-5
16th, and momentum seemed to be on his side when he hit a lovely
shot to 10 feet at the 17th.
But his first putt trickled four feet beyond the hole and he
missed the comeback attempt to fall two shots behind Goydos.
The Spaniard compounded his problems by dropping another shot at
the par-4 18th after pushing his drive into the rough and
having to lay up with his second shot.
"I'm a little bit disappointed because I feel the last two days
I shot pretty much the highest I could," said Garcia, whose long
game has been clearly better than anyone's. "I feel like I'm
putting well. It's not easy to make a lot of putts (although) I
went a little brain dead my first putt on 17 and just jammed it
Despite being ranked No. 1 in driving accuracy and hitting
greens in regulation for the tournament, Garcia is alone in
third at 4-under 212.
"With everything that happened, I'm still there," Garcia said.
"I still have a good chance, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow
coming out and playing well again, and we'll see if we can win
Mickelson, who said he was sick Friday and had to take
antibiotics, made a charge up the leaderboard but a double-bogey
six at the par-4 14th hole stalled his momentum.
Mickelson, also bogeyed No. 18 and had to settle for a 1-under
71, putting him in a three-way tie for fourth place with
Germany's Bernhard Langer (75) and Jeff Quinney (70) at 214.
"I feel like I'm playing well enough to shoot that round,"
Mickelson said. "I just haven't shot the right number. Today
it could have very easily been 67, 68, and I let it slide to 71.
"Tomorrow I need to shoot something in the mid- to high 60s to
have a chance. I'm playing well enough to do it, I just have to
Anthony Kim, who won last week at the Wachovia, was in position
to make it back-to-back titles before unraveling on the back
Sitting at 5-under after a birdie at No. 10, Kim bogeyed the
next four holes and shot 43 on the back side, including a
triple-bogey at the 17th and a double on the 18th.
"It was very disappointing, but at least I can go to sleep
tonight and say I didn't give up on one shot," Kim said.
"Forty-three is pretty embarrassing, but that was all I had
First prize is $1.62 million.