It didn't take long for The Players Championship leaderboard to shuffle at the top, as Tiger Woods jumped into sole possession of the lead just two holes into his third round alongside Sergio Garcia. Woods picked up a birdie at the par-5 second hole without ever seeing the fairway. He pulled his drive left and it was rumbling in the trees pretty quickly off the tee. His punch crossed the fairway and landed in a bunker well short of the green, where he blasted out 10 feet short of the pin. Woods, whose putter has carried him to three wins already this year, put the birdie putt right in the middle of the hole to move to 11-under. He's now 9-under through his first nine par-5s this week, and that's almost always the route Tiger takes to victory.
While Tiger picked up the birdie at the par-5 second, Sergio, who put his ball in the middle of the fairway, sent his approach shot off the yard way right. The precocious Spaniard was upset about some commotion in his backswing, and according to Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker, it may have been prompted by Tiger fussing around in the trees:
Sergio is pissed. He was hitting first, crowd made noise in his backswing bc tiger changed clubs. Unhappy Spaniard right now.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) May 11, 2013
Sergio went on to make bogey and after the two-shot swing, it looked like Tiger would continue his dominance over Garcia when the two are paired together. But Woods has not been as sharp off the tee, or with his irons, on Saturday. Tiger's was near perfect through the first two days, playing the best he ever has at TPC Sawgrass. After the birdie on No. 2, however, he three-putted the par-3 third to fall back to 10-under. As for the loop he's making with Sergio, reports from the course indicate the chill is still there:
Based on the number of words spoken between them -- zero -- guessing Tiger and Sergio aren't having dinner together tonight.— Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) May 11, 2013
The early shuffling is not contained to that final group though, as both Woods and Garcia are actually now one shot back of Henrik Stenson. The Swede, who won this event in 2009, has steadily risen back up the world rankings after completely falling off the map for a couple years. Stenson was solid at The Masters, and it looks like he is rounding into the same form that made him a past Players Champion and top-10 ranked player.
Jeff Maggert, who's one year away from being eligible for the Champions Tour, had the best round of the day going and was even with Woods and Garcia at 10-under before a bogey on his last hole. Despite that disappointing finish on the difficult 18th, Maggert's 66 should have him in position to play in one of the final groups on Sunday.
Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard chasing Stenson: