The Players Championship provides plenty of theater because of its thrill-a-minute golf course. Making it more compelling is the star attraction of Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods, playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time in nearly seven years.
Garcia made seven straight putts — six of them for birdie — on his way to a 7-under 65 to match his best score on the TPC Sawgrass.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Woods, who again made short work of the par 5s and posted his second straight 67. Woods broke his 36-hole record at Sawgrass by six shots and can’t find much wrong with his game.
But it’s hard to call it a rivalry. Not only does Woods have a 77-8 margin in PGA Tour victories (and 14-0 in majors), in the five times they were in the final group on the weekend on the PGA Tour, Woods has gone on to win all five times.
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Garcia ran off five straight birdies, ending the streak with putts from 20 feet and 25 feet, and then he added a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. Garcia, who won The Players in 2008, was at 11-under 133.
Woods looks like he’s having a good time on the course that has vexed him more than any other on the PGA Tour. He is 8-under on the par 5s this week, including a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 2 that gave him a share of lead. Woods took the outright lead with a short birdie putt on No. 4 until Garcia blazed by him with his string of birdies.
The 18 players within five shots of the lead include three major champions — Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy was coming off back-to-back bogeys when he chose to go for the green in two at the par-5 ninth. He hit the trees and got into a mess, and McIlroy made his third straight bogey. He rallied on the back for a 72 and was in the group at 6-under 138.