Jason Day will take a four-shot lead into the final round of The Players at Sawgrass tomorrow after a long and frustrating day in Florida today.
Day, the world No. 1, struggled in tough conditions, posting a third-round 73, but a crazy course set-up meant that he was far from alone.
The wind came up and the greens were super-slick, especially by comparison with the first two days, and the scoring average soared to 76. Ian Baker-Finch called it a "disgraceful'' set-up and players bit their tongues, mystified as to how a course could change so much from one day to the next.
Still, it was a day for grinding and Day was happy to do it although he said later the course set-up was "not fun". He had two double bogeys, including a calamitous four-putt from inside six metres at the par-four sixth. He also double-bogeyed the par-three eighth hole and chipped in to save par from 20 metres at the par-four 15th hole, a dagger blow for his opponents.
He had started early today, completing his second round with a 66 to lead by four, and that buffer remained by day's end.
"Some of the pin locations were a little 'iffy' with how quick the greens were,'' he said. "The greens got a little bit out of hand on the front side. That's my honest opinion. It was a drastic change from Thursday-Friday, it took us all by surprise and I think some of the players would agree with that.''
Only six players broke par for the day, although American veteran Ken Duke somehow managed to conjure a 65.
Day has Duke, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama at 10-under, closest upon his heels.
But frankly at Sawgrass, anything can happen, just ask Russell Knox, the American who rinsed three tee balls in the water at the par-three 17th and took a nine.
Adam Scott is tied-23rd after a 75 today.
But it is Day's event to lose. He has already won twice this year on tour, but has never finished top-five at Sawgrass, a course where he has previously struggled.
Day used to struggle to hold on to tournament leads, but he has won the past four tournaments when he has led through 54 holes, including his first major, the US PGA in August last year.
It is all ahead of him. "I feel good about my game, I've just got to focus on the positives that I've got a four-stroke lead.''