Players Championship 2021 Leaderboard: Live Updates, Top Storylines for SaturdayMarch 13, 2021
Bryson DeChambeau has been one of golf's top stories since the PGA Tour resumed play last summer.
The 27-year-old American first gained attention for bulking up and hitting the ball 300-plus yards off the tee, but now the conversation has changed from questioning his tactics to asking how many tournaments he can win this season.
DeChambeau won last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational and is lurking three shots back of Lee Westwood heading into the third round of The Players Championship.
Since his U.S. Open victory in September, DeChambeau has three top-10 finishes in six starts, and if he continues to play at a high level, he could be the odds-on favorite to win The Masters in April.
DeChambeau is far from the only golfer in contention for the win at TPC Sawgrass. Sergio Garcia, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm and Jason Day are among the notable players in the top 20.
All of them will be chasing Westwood, who is at the top of the leaderboard for the second straight week. The Englishman needs a better effort than his final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to lock up the title.
Players Championship Leaderboard
Lee Westwood (-9)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (-8)
Chris Kirk (-7)
Sergio Garcia (-7)
Denny McCarthy (-6)
Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
Brian Harman (-6)
Charley Hoffman (-6)
Sungjae Im (-6)
Doug Ghim (-6)
Full leaderboard can be found on PGATour.com.
Storylines to Watch
Will Bryson DeChambeau Win 2 Straight Tournaments?
DeChambeau did not have flashy scores in the first two rounds, but he did remain consistent.
He moved into a tie for fifth place with back-to-back cards of 69 and had an effective second set of 18 holes.
The 27-year-old produced five birdies, including one each on the 16th and 17th holes, but he was set back by a double-bogey at No. 10.
The two-shot drop at the 10th was the only setback suffered by DeChambeau on Friday, which is why that round should encourage his backers.
DeChambeau said after Friday's round that he needs to be strong off the tee and avoid any precarious situations throughout TPC Sawgrass in Florida to keep pushing toward the win, per the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson:
“I'm happy with the fact that I've still been able to keep myself in it and score well. I've been pretty lucky, for the most part. I don't think that'll happen this weekend. I've got to make sure that my game is good off the tee, so I don't have those issues occurring and I don't have to rely on luck for the most part. I have to get it in the fairway.”
DeChambeau worked his way into contention last weekend with a third-round 68, and he has not played a weekend round worse than 72 since the Masters.
The weekend consistency has to make DeChambeau one of the favorites to capture the title on Sunday afternoon.
Even if he does not win, the one-time major champion should be in the mix for first on Saturday and Sunday because he has rarely cracked under pressure since winning at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Can Lee Westwood Reverse Poor Weekend Form?
Westwood surged to the front of the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Saturday with a third-round 68.
However, that was an exception to his recent form on the weekends in PGA Tour events. He had a 77-76 weekend at the WGC Workday Championship and carded a 73 in the final round at Bay Hill.
Before he returned to PGA Tour play, the 47-year-old struggled to make weekend surges on the European Tour.
In his first three tournaments of 2021, Westwood carded a single weekend round in the 60s, a third-round 67 at the Saudi Invitational.
Westwood reached the top of the leaderboard with a second-round 66 that featured a string of birdies to begin the front nine.
He only has two bogeys through 36 holes, so that could be a sign that his form across four rounds is starting to trend in the right direction.
Westwood has had prior success at TPC Sawgrass, as he reeled off three top-eight placings from 2010-14. He has played in three Players Championships dating back to 2015.
If Westwood rediscovers tournament-long form, he could keep hold of the lead going into Sunday's back nine.
But if he struggles to finish again, he could be looking at another disappointing finish and have no answers to the poor late-round form that has plagued him this season.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from PGATour.com and EuropeanTour.com.