Players Championship 2015: Leaderboard Scores and Highlights from Saturday

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2015

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Saturday was moving day at the 2015 Players Championship, and it wasn’t the biggest names on the PGA Tour making the notable moves. 

Instead, players such as Kevin Na, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner and Ben Martin dominated the third-round headlines and sit at or near the top of the crowded leaderboard. In all, 24 players are within four strokes of Kirk's first-place score of 10-under par.

Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard:

Na found himself in first or second place for most of his round Saturday and quickly bounced back from a bogey on the first hole. He sprinkled in the occasional birdie and was tied for the lead after No. 17 at 10 under par.

Jason Sobel of ESPN.com and Kyle Porter of CBS Sports provided a look at one of Na's more entertaining moments of the day on that 17th hole:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Kevin Na swings on 17... drops the club... hates it... watches it... hates it some more... sees it land five feet from the hole... smiles.

Kyle Porter @KylePorterCBS

Kevin Na just gave @nolayingup its defining #TourSauce GIF on 17. Almost threw his club into the drink. Four feet.

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However, he collapsed on the final hole with a double bogey and now sits two strokes back of Kirk.

Kirk made a dramatic charge near the end of his round and birdied Nos. 15, 16 and 17 on his way up the leaderboard. He finished with a four-under 68 on the day.

One notable name who took advantage of Saturday’s opportunity was Sergio Garcia.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09:  Chris Kirk plays his shot from the 11th tee during round three of THE PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course on May 9, 2015 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Garcia shot a five-under par 67 to bring his tournament total to eight-under. He is only two shots off the lead and well within striking distance of the top of the leaderboard. Garcia was a monster on the back nine with five birdies and threw in an eagle on No. 2 as well.

Garcia would be in an even more favorable position if it wasn’t for the putter. Randall Mell of GolfChannel.com put Garcia’s putting struggles into perspective, while Sobel passed along an amusing quote from Garcia on the subject:

Randall Mell @RandallMellGC

Sergio Garcia is dead last in putting from inside 10 feet so far this week, but he's T-6 on leaderboard & two off the lead.

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Sergio Garcia brought three putters this week, but he's narrowed it down. "One of them is back the house and one is in the garbage."

Another superstar who is still within striking distance of the lead with one round remaining is Rory McIlroy. 

McIlroy finished with a two-under 70 Saturday to bring his total to six-under for the tournament, although he must figure out the front nine if he wants to win the title Sunday. He finished one over par on the front nine but turned it around on the back with a three-under.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the second hole during round three of THE PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course on May 9, 2015 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Gett
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sobel pointed out that it was business as usual for McIlroy at TPC Sawgrass, while Justin Ray of Golf Channel acknowledged McIlroy’s brilliance after the turn:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Rory McIlroy’s last six rounds at TPC Sawgrass: 36-35 36-33 35-31 38-31 42-32 37-33 Front-nine average: 37.33 Back-nine average: 32.50

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

Rory McIlroy on back nine today: 7/7 fairways 9/9 GIR 3-under Now -28 on back 9 at @TPCSawgrass in last 8 rounds here

The question now is whether the world’s No. 1 player has a run in store Sunday. 

Tied for 17th place, he cannot afford to turn in another lackluster front-nine performance. However, the back-nine performances are encouraging, especially if he shoots around one or two under par in the front nine. He has the ability necessary to make a late charge on the back nine and make the leaders sweat.

McIlroy shot a 66 in the final round in last year’s TPC Sawgrass. Dominating Sundays is a habit of his, and another vintage performance like that would be a problem for the rest of the field.

McIlroy’s fellow Nike-backed superstar Tiger Woods does not have a chance to make a run for the title Sunday.

John Raoux/Associated Press

He struggled to establish any momentum Saturday throughout his round, which was not the formula he needed after shooting a respectable even par in the first two days. The early par fives proved particularly disastrous for the former TPC Sawgrass champion Saturday, and he turned in double-bogey sevens on Nos. 2 and 9.

He did birdie the par-five 11th, but he needed to do better than one-over on the four par fives to take advantage of moving day. In all, he shot a three-over 75 and is 13 strokes off the lead in 68th place.

The PGA Tour and ESPN Stats & Info pointed out just how rare Woods’ struggles on the par fives truly were, while Ray noted a troublesome pattern for the former great:


For the first time in his TOUR career, Tiger Woods has made double bogey on multiple par-5s in one round. #PGATOUR http://t.co/SPDyWF2tMt

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

From 2005-2009, Tiger Woods never made more than 2 double-bogeys on Par 5s in a season. Made 2 such double-bogeys on the front nine today.

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

Tiger Woods shoots 75. Last 2 PGA Tour seasons, Woods has as many rounds of 75/worse (8) as rounds in 60s (8).

Fans hoping for some star power on the top of the leaderboard Sunday should not overlook Rickie Fowler.

He experienced an up-and-down front nine with a bogey on the first and sixth holes and a double bogey on No. 7, but he also birdied Nos. 3, 5 and 9. He then turned it on during the back nine with birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 15 to finish with a one-under 71. 

A key moment in the round came on that 11th hole, when Fowler chipped in for a critical birdie. It provided a momentum boost that lasted the rest of the back nine. The PGA Tour provided the highlight:


Remember when Rickie broke a club on a root at 11? The story had a happy ending. #QuickHits http://t.co/G85NtUAu7O

If Fowler parlays his back-nine momentum into a quick start Sunday, he could challenge for the title at three back. A leaderboard populated by Fowler, McIlroy and a number of other contenders would make for major-like drama in the final round.


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