Maggert on the charge at Sawgrass
All eyes were on the duel between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods at the prestigious Players Championship today, but veteran Jeff Maggert was proving anything remained possible in the $9.4m (€7.2m) event.
Garcia held a one-shot lead over world number one Woods going into the third round, the Spaniard having carded a superb 65 on Friday to lie 11 under par.
Woods, with three wins already this season but only one as a professional at Sawgrass, had back-to-back rounds of 67 and also boasted a superb head-to-head record against Garcia.
In the 19 rounds the pair have played together on the PGA Tour, Woods has come out on top 12
times, with Garcia only shooting the lower score on three occasions.
However, thoughts that the tournament would simply be a battle between Woods and Garcia were lessened by the presence of the likes of Lee Westwood and Masters champion Adam Scott high on the leaderboard.
And Maggert was making the most of more excellent scoring conditions to move into contention, the 49-year-old racing to the turn in 31 and then adding another birdie on the 10th.
At nine under, Maggert was just two behind Garcia and into a share of third place with Westwood, 2009 champion Henrik Stenson and American Kevin Chappell.
Rory McIlroy, who was only able to add a second round of 72 to his opening 66, had birdied the first from 10ft but missed from similar distance on the par-five second, the second easiest hole on the course.
That left the world number two seven under par, four behind Ryder Cup team-mate Garcia who was yet to resume his bid for a second Players Championship title.
Westwood had not dropped a single shot in the first 36 holes, but ran up a double-bogey six on the first hole of his third round in embarrassing fashion.
The 40-year-old’s pulled drive came to rest near the base of a tree and in trying to reach the green with his second shot, Westwood caught the tree on his downswing, causing him to completely miss the ball.
That prompted a rethink and a more conservative pitch down the fairway, but after pitching onto the green he two-putted from 18ft.
At seven under, Westwood’s deficit had suddenly doubled to four shots, with Garcia opening with a solid par and Woods also making par after finding a fairway bunker off the tee.
Westwood bounced back well with a birdie on the second, but then ran up another double-bogey six on the fourth to drop back to six under par.
Woods briefly claimed the lead with a birdie from 12ft on the second despite a hooked drive and an approach into a greenside bunker, with Garcia taking six on the same hole after carving his second shot into the trees.
However, Woods then three-putted the third and found himself in a four-way tie for the lead on 10 under with Garcia, Maggert – who had birdied the 16th – and Stenson.