Na birdies final hole for Players lead


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With a birdie on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, Kevin Na took the lead after three rounds of The Players Championship. The final-hole birdie capped a bogey-free 68 for Na and broke a tie with Matt Kuchar.

Na, who is 12 under, struggled again with his idiosyncracies, but they did not stymie his scoring.

He took an inordinate amount of time over the ball, backing off several times and intentionally missing the ball with practice strokes. He received a bad time on his second shot to the par-5 16th, resulting in notification in the fairway by PGA Tour roles official Jon Brendle.

Kuchar shot 3-under 69 with a rather tumultuous back nine. On the second half of his round at the Stadium Course, Kuchar uncharacteristically made just two pars, with four birdies and three bogeys.

With the lead alone on the tee at the par-3 17th, Kuchar found the water. He managed to get up and down from the drop zone to drop just one shot.

Rickie Fowler charged up the leaderboard into contention for a second PGA Tour win in as many weeks. His Saturday-best 66 moved him into solo third at 9 under par.

Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, is tied for fourth place, trailing by four shots after a third-round 73. He is in fourth at 7 under with the resurgent Ben Curtis, a winner at the Valero Texas Open. No Players champion has won at Sawgrass from more than five shots behind the 54-hole lead.

Four players are tied for sixth, trailing by six: Jhonattan Vegas, Brian Davis, Jonathan Byrd and Martin Laird.

Phil Mickelson shot 2-under 70 on Friday to reach 4 under.

Tiger Woods made just two birdies to shoot even-par 72. He sits at 2 under and trails by 10 shots entering the final round.