PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Heath Slocum got lower than anyone at The Players Championship on Saturday. He just didn’t stay there long.
Minutes after getting to 15 under in the third round, Slocum gave back several strokes and tumbled down the leaderboard. When it was over, Slocum tried to stay positive, pointing out that he’s still in contention for his fourth PGA Tour victory.
“I didn’t end the round like I wanted to, but I feel like I’m at least still in it,” he said.
Slocum shot even par in the third round and remained at 11-under 205, three strokes behind leader Lee Westwood and in a four-way tie for sixth.
Slocum birdied Nos. 9, 11 and 12 – he stuck an approach shot to 3 feet to start the run, then made a 14-foot putt and a 10-footer – and saved par on No. 10 with a 15-footer.
He was leading the way after that four-hole stretch, but then his round unraveled. He had poor tee shots at Nos. 13 and 15, leading to a pair of bogeys, then yanked his tee shot into the water at the famed par-3 17th and wound up with a double.
He regrouped by hitting one of his better drives of the day at the finishing hole. He followed that with an approach shot to 10 feet, but just missed his birdie putt.
“I feel like I got it out of my head, and it’s just time to move forward,” he said. “I’ll go out tomorrow with the same kind of attitude I had today. … I would like to have had a few more shots with me, but that’s what I have so I’ll just go out tomorrow and make some birdies.”
FUNK’S FAREWELL? That five-year tournament exemption Fred Funk earned for winning The Players Championship in 2005 expires after this event, meaning the 53-year-old fan favorite who lives a short drive from the Stadium Course could be playing his final competitive round here Sunday.
“It meant a lot to me to make the cut,” Funk said Saturday after posting a 6-under 66 left him at 8-under 208. “I was grinding like crazy (Friday) to try to make it to the weekend. I just didn’t want to miss it. … Now I’m part of the history of The Players and it’s home and it’s my favorite tournament that we play on tour. I love this place.”
An aching right knee – he had surgery, several drainings and a staph infection – has made it painful to walk four rounds in four days. He still has a couple of options to return to The Players down the road, but hasn’t decided whether he when or if he will use them.
“I’ve played the last 3 1/2 years with a lot of knee pain,” Funk said. “It’s just a part of life right now with me. … It’s getting better all the time, but it’s still got a ways to go. But it’s just become a part of my everyday deal.”
DIVOTS: Ben Crane (69), Zach Johnson (67), and Jimmy Walker (68) posted the only bogey-free rounds Saturday. … Andres Romero of Argentina has birdied the famed island green in all three rounds. He did it by making nearly 40 feet of putts. He drained a 28-footer Saturday. … Tim Clark had the shot of the day, holing out from 118 yards away and making eagle on the par-4 sixth.