Scheffler grabs two-shot lead at low-scoring Players
American Scottie Scheffler birdied the final hole to complete a seven-underpar 65 and take a two-shot lead into Sunday's final round of the Players Championship.
With Spain's world number one Jon Rahm having withdrawn from the tournament with illness and number three Rory McIlroy missing the cut, Scheffler, who is 14-under, can regain the top spot in the world rankings with a top-five finish at TPC Sawgrass.
He faces an international challenge, though, with Australian Min Woo Lee on 12-under after carding 66 and his compatriot Cam Davis a further two strokes back.
English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Rai are level in fourth place, five shots back of Scheffler along with South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout and American Chad Ramey, the 18-hole leader.
Rai made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole, with its famed island green, following Hayden Buckley, who also eagled the famous hole in the opening round.
American Tom Hoge set a new course record with his round of 62 and after carding 78 in the first round he finds himself six strokes off the lead.
But a sixth tournament win in 13 months is in Scheffler's sights after he got off to a flying start with a birdie on the first followed by an eagle on the par-five third, where he holed a 61-yard chip shot.
A bogey on the par-four seventh was the only blemish for the man who heads to Augusta next month as the defending champion.
"I played really good today. I got off to a nice start, which is always good. Kept it rolling from there, gave myself a lot of looks. Good finish as well," he said.
- Tougher test -
It was the lowest third-round field score to par since the Players moved to Sawgrass in 1982 with 15 players shooting 67 or better, but Scheffler expects a tougher test on Sunday.
"I think the conditions are going to be pretty tough. From what I saw, it's going to be pretty gusty winds tomorrow in the afternoon, so it should be a good challenge," he said.
Lee made a sensational start to his round, making an eagle on the par-4 first, holing out from 112 yards before sinking a 34-yard putt for birdie on the fourth.
The 24-year-old from Perth made four more birdies before he ended on a slightly sour note with a bogey on the 18th, where he missed a seven-foot par putt.
The Sawgrass crowd warmed to him with chants of 'Woo' booming out around the course.
"It was amazing, amazing day. Just coming on 17 and 18 and hearing the crowd chant and that's all I'm asking for. Yeah, just had a lot of fun," he said.
"It's really special to get that chant. I had that same thing at Aussie PGA last year. It's even cooler here on 17 at Sawgrass; you can't ask for anything more.
"I love playing in front of a crowd, and I love entertaining them. So I hope they had a good show today and hopefully I can do it again tomorrow."
Hoge had started his day by finishing off the delayed second round and battling to make the cut, saying he had booked a flight home after his opening 78.
But his course record 10-under 62 forced a change in plans as he raced up the leaderboard.
"It has been nice to cancel a few flights," he said. "I didn't even know it was a course record until after we got done in the scoring (hut).
"Today was going to be the day to do it if you were going to out here because it was soft with little wind, so you felt like you could make birdies and keep trying to make birdies. So just felt fortunate and tried to take advantage of it the best I could."