Former Players champ Stenson lurking on Sunday


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Henrik Stenson’s remarkable journey could come full circle Sunday with another victory at The Players.

The Swede will head into the final round one shot behind Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth.

When the third round resumed at 7:10 a.m. ET, Stenson faced the unenviable task of playing the 17th and 18th holes, but he handled them with ease.

On the watery par 3, he stuck his tee shot to 12 feet, but missed the putt. And on the final hole, he two-putted from 60 feet.

“It’s not the easiest two holes to finish off in the morning at 7 o’clock, so I was quite pleased making two pars,” he said. “It’s a wide-open tournament. Probably 10 or 15 guys can win this thing.”

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Stenson has climbed all the way to No. 39 in the world – an impressive feat, considering that this time last year, he was ranked 171st.

He won the European Tour’s SA Open, then made a last-ditch effort to secure a Masters berth, recording seven top-25 finishes in 10 worldwide starts, including a runner-up in Houston. At Augusta, he tied for 18th.

The turnaround can be attributed to a stellar long game. This season, Stenson is ranked first in both total driving and greens in regulation. Last year, he was 190th in total driving – dead last – and 113th in greens hit.

“I’ve got a better idea of what I’m doing and I’m playing much better,” he said.

Stenson, who won here in 2009 with a closing 66, is attempting to become only the fifth player to win multiple Players titles at TPC Sawgrass, and first since Davis Love III in 2003.

“I’ve got a great feeling playing this golf course,” he said. “I’ve liked it ever since I played the first time in ’06. So I’ll go out and do my job and see on the back nine if I can be in position and give myself a chance at it.”