Where Tiger Woods Stands Heading into Players Championship Final Round

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2013

May 11, 2013; Ponte Vedra Beach,  FL, USA; Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 12th hole in the third round at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course.  Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing up his third round Sunday morning due to a weather delay, Tiger Woods has put himself in a great position to steal the show at the 2013 Players Championship with a score heading into the final round of -11, which gives him a share of the lead.

Not only is this the first time Woods has ever led after a round at The Players Championship (h/t PGA Tour), but also this is the lowest score the former champion has tallied on this course since he won the event in 2001 (h/t Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post):

Woods has been playing well all week at TPC Sawgrass—scoring a a 67 on both Thursday and Friday and a 71 in Round 3. Another stellar showing on the course with the added pressure of playing with longtime foe Sergio Garcia on Saturday and Sunday morning proves the veteran is mentally ready to remain in contention.

The weather delay that forced the end of Round 3 to resume on Sunday also gave each golfer the chance to speak to the media, and Garcia had a few things to say about Woods (h/t ESPN):

Well, obviously, Tiger was on the left, and it was my shot to hit. He moved all the crowd that he needed to move. I waited for that. I wouldn't say that he didn't see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit, and right as I was in the top of my backswing, I think he must have pulled like a 5-wood or a 3-wood and obviously everybody started screaming.

Woods has never been one to shy away from answering criticism from other golfers or sharing a barb or two of his own, and he responded to Garcia’s comments Saturday night:

Obviously, he doesn't know all the facts. The marshals told me he had already hit. I pulled the club and played my shot. Then I hear his comments afterward. Not really surprising that he's complaining about something.

The interaction of the duo toward each other on the course Sunday morning to finish Round 3 was awkward to say the least, and CBS Sports insider Kyle Porter captured how Woods was watching Garcia’s swing.

Unfortunately for the golf world, Woods will not be paired with Garcia on Sunday. He will be playing alongside relative unknown Casey Wittenberg who sits at -10 through the first three days.

For Woods, it’s a blessing that Garcia has been paired with another golfer after even more comments following the conclusion of Round 3, according to Rex Hoggard and Will Gray of the Golf Channel:

The Players Championship may not be a major on the PGA Tour, but it would be a huge boost for Woods’ confidence if he were able to win this tournament for the first time since 2001.

The World’s No. 1 golfer is playing at the highest level he has in years, winning three of the six previous events he entered in 2013 (Farmers Insurance Open, WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational) and playing more consistently than he has at any point since 2009.

If Woods can continue to strike the ball well and keep it on the fairway, he will have ample chances to get onto the green and set up what has been his strong putting this week.

With Tiger putting well, the field has been put on notice.