Date: May 10, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Cejka continues to fire

Germany&aposs Alex Cejka strengthened his lead over Englishman Ian Poulter as the Australians faltered in the third round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Robert Allenby struggled with a three-over par 75 to drop to nine shots of the lead after what looked like a promising start to the tournament for the Aussie. Compatriot John Senden was steady with a par round that left him at minus three while Geoff Ogilvy is two shots further back after a round of one over. Nick O Hern went three over for the day to finish the third round at even par. Poulter teed off in the last pairing with overnight leader Cejka, with both golfers entertaining thoughts of a maiden PGA Tour victory. Cejka teed off at 11 under par, leading Poulter by two strokes with a five-man group of Masters champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and American quartet of Jason Dufner, John Mallinger, Kevin Na and David Toms on seven under. Both Poulter and Cejka opened with consecutive pars until the Czech-born German extended his advantage with a birdie at the par-four fifth hole as the English Ryder Cup player continued to card pars. Stenson briefly joined Poulter on nine under after birdies at the par-five second and fifth but fell back with a bogey at the par-four seventh. Continuing the strong European presence on the leaderboard, Swedish duo Daniel Chopra and Richard S Johnson both made moves in the right direction. Chopra opened with three birdies to move to seven under before bogeying the par-four fifth and a further birdie at nine was negated with a bogey at the 12th. Johnson had started at six under and dropped a shot at the second before rebounding with a birdie two at the eighth. American Kevin Na broke up the Euro party with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 to reach nine under and tie for second with Poulter. Chopra&aposs playing partner Tiger Woods moved to five under after six holes but the world No.1 found trouble off the tee at 11 and played his second shot from the base of a pine tree left-handed with a flipped over iron. While that paid dividends his third shot from out of position on the right fairway demanded a cut around a tree but Woods&apos shot never turned back in from the left and he was forced to settle for a bogey six to fall to four under. The setback was short-lived, however, as Woods birdied the 12th to re-enter the top 10 on the leaderboard at five under alongside England&aposs Brian Davis, who had played 13 holes. Paul Casey of England had started at five under before a double-bogey six at the 10th, while Paul Casey of England had started at five under before a double-bogey six at the 10th, while compatriot Justin Rose shot a 72 to finish his third round on three under. World No.2 Phil Mickelson had been among the stragglers at TPC Sawgrass trying to avoid the second cut. With 83 players making the weekend&aposs play, tournament officials decided to make another cut after the third round to reduce the field further to the low 70 and ties. That meant trouble for Mickelson initially. He had needed a birdie at the last on Friday to make the halfway cut at level par and began badly with bogeys at the second and 10th holes to send him into a tie for 70th place at two over. An eagle at the par-five 11th gave him some breathing room back at level par and Mickelson came home in 71, one under for the week, as did Luke Donald of England. Defending champion Sergio Garcia posted a 73 to finish at one over while Padraig Harrington hit a 74 to finish at two over. “I drove the ball super today,” Harrington said, a day after admitting his “addiction” to perfecting his swing and promising to get back to playing to his strengths. Two over was still enough to reach the final round but Robert Karlsson, Martin Laird and McDowell were facing a Sunday off after finishing on the wrong side of the projected cut line. Swede Karlsson&aposs 75 sent him to three over, Scotland&aposs Laird shot a four-over 76 to finish at three over while McDowell finished with a 77, five over for the week. The Players Championship After Round 3 -11: Alex Cejka 66 67 72 -6: Tiger Woods 71 69 70, Retief Goosen 67 72 71, Jonathan Byrd 67 72 71, Ben Crane 65 73 72, Henrik Stenson 68 69 73, Ian Poulter 67 68 75 -5: Brian Davis 71 69 71, John Mallinger 66 71 74, Kevin Na 71 66 74 -4: Woody Austin 72 72 68, Kenny Perry 73 71 68, Ben Curtis 71 72 69, Daniel Chopra 75 65 72, Kevin Sutherland 73 67 72, Richard S Johnson 66 72 74 Also: -3: John Senden (Australia) 72 69 72 -2: Robert Allenby (Australia) 73 66 75 -1: Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 70 72 73 E: Nick O Hern (Australia) 68 73 75 2: Aaron Badeley (Australia) 71 71 76 +3: Nathan Green (Australia) 74 69 76 +6: Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 73 79