The players lead after Clark made a mistake

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POSITIVE
Open Extended ReactionsPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Wyndham Clark had just regained a share of the third-round lead at the 50th Players Championship on Saturday when Xander Schauffele missed a long birdie putt on the par-5 16th, the start of one of the most famous finishing stretches in golf.
After seizing momentum, Clark walked to the tee box at the par-3 17th hole and gazed at the thousands of fans surrounding the iconic island green.
The hole was only 123 yards away, but it might as well have been a mile with tension building before his white-knuckled shot.
Just before Clark put his ball on a tee, his caddie, John Ellis, told him not to take a full swing with a sand wedge.
Ellis was afraid that if the reigning U.S. Open champion nuked the wedge, his ball might end up on top of the green, leaving him a tricky putt back down the hill and toward the water.
Clark took a couple of practice swings and pulled his wedge back.
He chunked the shot, and his ball never had a chance to reach the green, landing 15 to 20 yards short in the water.
“As I was over the ball, I kind of got to the top and I was like, ‘Take a little off,’ and then I just kind of [decelerated] and chunked it,” Clark said.
“It wasn’t really a lack of focus or anything.
It just was honestly a poor swing.”
Wyndham Clark said a “poor swing” caused his tee shot on 17 to land in the water.
He enters Sunday’s final round one shot behind Xander Schauffele.
EPA/ERIK S. LESSERThat mistake helped Schauffele erase Clark’s 4-stroke advantage after 36 holes and take a 1-stroke lead over him heading into Sunday’s final round.
Schauffele carded a bogey-free, 7-under 65.
He caught Clark on No.
12 and then took a 1-stroke lead with a 58-foot birdie on the par-4 14th.
Reigning Open Championship winner Brian Harman is 2 strokes behind at 15 under after posting an 8-under 64 on Saturday.
After carding his only bogey on the par-5 ninth hole — which required the lefty to hit a right-handed shot — Harman had a 5-under 31 on the back nine.
Maverick McNealy and Matt Fitzpatrick are 4 strokes back at 13 under.
1 golfer Scottie Scheffler, who is attempting to become the first back-to-back winner in Players Championship history, stayed in the hunt by posting birdies on four of his last five holes.
He is 5 strokes behind at 12 under, along with Sahith Theegala.
“I wouldn’t say I’m out of the tournament,” Scheffler said.
“I’m definitely on the outside looking in, but a hot day tomorrow could go a long way.”
Schauffele, ranked sixth in the world, is one of the most talented golfers in the world without a major championship victory.
He won’t be able to win one at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday, but he can capture the “fifth major” and the $4.5 million winner’s purse, the richest in men’s professional golf.
It’s the seventh time in Schauffele’s career that he has led or co-led a tournament after 54 holes.
He won twice in the previous six tries, at the Genesis Scottish Open and Travelers Championship in 2022.
Schauffele said he knows it might take another low number on Sunday to win again.
“Probably pretty similar, to be honest,” Schauffele said.
“I’m going to go to the range right now and try and clean up some of those missed fairways on the back nine.
When you hit a lot of fairways out here, you can get some scoring clubs in your hand, and with the greens being receptive, you can fire at some pins.
It could be low tomorrow, but for the most part I’m going to try and enjoy myself and stay in my lane.”
After posting consecutive 65s to start the tournament, Clark knows he’ll have to clean things up in the final round, including his indecisiveness on the 17th hole.
As poor as Clark’s first swing on the 17th was on Saturday, his second one was nearly perfect.
Instead of taking his third shot from the drop area, he hit again from the tees.
Clark asked his caddie if he should hit from the drop area, but Ellis told him he didn’t like the angle and the shot was too close.
“It was kind of a no-brainer to hit from there,” Ellis said.
“He asked me, and I said, ‘No, we’re going to hit it from right here,’ so easy choice.”
Clark knocked his ball to 6½ feet.
He made the putt for bogey.
Schauffele and Clark both made par on the difficult 18th, leaving Schauffele with the advantage heading into Sunday.
“It’s unfortunate on a hole that’s so iconic and has a bunch of trouble to have kind of your worst swing of the day,” Clark said.
“But yeah, I followed it with a great swing and a great putt.
I’m in the final group tomorrow, which is huge.
“I’m hoping that’s a huge point in the tournament and we look back after tomorrow and look at that hole and say, ‘Hey, that was maybe the shot and the putt that meant it all.'”

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FORT WESTERN BEACH, FLA. Just moments ago, Wyndham Clark had reclaimed a share of the lead after round three at the 50th Players Championship, following Xander Schauffele’s mishandled long putt on the par-5 16th, the first of golf’s most storied finishing drives.

Upon gaining momentum, Clark strolled over to the par-3 17th hole’s tee box, where he took in the thousands of spectators gathered around the recognizable island green. Tension mounting before his knuckleball shot made the hole seem farther away than it actually was—just 123 yards.

Clark was advised not to take a full swing with a sand wedge by his caddie, John Ellis, just before he put his ball on a tee. Ellis feared that if the current U. s. The Open champion hit a sharp wedge shot that could land his ball above the green, forcing him to make a difficult putt back down the hill and into the water.

After practicing a few swings, Clark withdrew his wedge. His ball was chunked and never had a chance to get to the green, ending up in the water 15 to 20 yards short.

“I kind of got to the top as I was over the ball and I was like, ‘Take a little off,’ and then I just kind of [decelerated] and chunked it,” Clark recalled. It wasn’t a case of being unfocused or anything. To be honest, it was a bad swing. “.

The reason Wyndham Clark’s tee shot on hole 17 ended up in the water was a “poor swing.”. He is one shot behind Xander Schauffele going into the final round on Sunday. A lower EPA/ERIK Sdot.

After 36 holes, Schauffele had a 4-stroke lead over Clark, but that error allowed him to cut it to just one going into Sunday’s final round. Schauffele shot a 7-under 65, bogey-free. He discovered Clark’s No. 12 and then made a 58-foot birdie on the par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead.

Brian Harman, the reigning Open Championship winner, is two strokes behind at 15 under following his 8-under 64 on Saturday. On the back nine, Harman shot 5-under 31 after making his lone bogey on the par-5 ninth hole, which demanded a left-handed shot. Matt Fitzpatrick and Maverick McNealy are four strokes behind at 13 under.

Worldwide No. Aiming to become the first player in Players Championship history to win the tournament twice, number one golfer Scottie Scheffler maintained his lead by making birdies on four of his final five holes. At 12 under, he and Sahith Theegala are five strokes behind.

Scheffler said, “I wouldn’t say I’m out of the tournament.”. I’m undoubtedly looking in from the outside, but tomorrow’s heat wave might be very beneficial. ****.

Sixth-ranked in the world, Schauffele is among the best golfers ever without a significant title win. He isn’t going to win one at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday, but he can win the “fifth major” and the largest winner’s purse in men’s professional golf, which is $40.5 million.

In Schauffele’s career, this is the seventh time he has taken the lead or co-led a tournament after 54 holes. Previously, he had only won twice in six attempts, at the 2022 Travelers Championship and the Genesis Scottish Open. Schauffele acknowledged that he might need to win again on Sunday with a low score.

“To be honest, I think they’re pretty similar,” Schauffele stated. “I’m going to the driving range now to try to make up for some of the back nine’s missed fairways. The greens are forgiving, so you can fire at some pins when you hit a lot of fairways here and get some scoring clubs in your hand. Tomorrow might be low, but I’m going to try to have fun and stay in my lane for the most part. “.

Clark knows he’ll need to improve in the final round, especially his lack of focus on the 17th hole, after opening the tournament with two straight 65s.

Although Clark’s first swing on Saturday’s 17th hole was subpar, his second one was almost flawless. He struck again from the tees, declining his third attempt from the drop area. Ellis told Clark that the shot was too close and that he didn’t like the angle when Clark asked his caddie if he should hit from the drop area.

“It was quite obvious to go from there,” Ellis remarked. “We’re going to hit it from right here,’ I replied when he asked, making it an easy decision. “.”.

Clark knocked his ball down to six and a half feet. He hit the bogey putt. On the challenging 18th hole, Schauffele and Clark both made par, giving Schauffele the lead going into Sunday.

“Having your worst swing of the day on a hole that’s so iconic and has a bunch of trouble is unfortunate,” Clark remarked. “However, I did follow it up with a fantastic swing and putt. It’s big that I’m in the last group tomorrow.

“Hopefully, that will be a turning point in the tournament, and when we look back at that hole tomorrow, we’ll realize that, perhaps, that was the shot and putt that made the difference. ‘.

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