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Holmes, Stanley lead Players, Garcia four back

14 May 2017

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, gestures after missing a birdie putt on the seventh green during the second round of The Players Championship golf tournament Friday, May 12, 2017, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

After a slow start Saturday, bogeying three of his first four holes, Stanley settled into his round and hit 13 of 14 fairways en route to an even-par 72 to remain tied for the lead with J.B. Holmes at 9 under.

Numerous big names have work to do, defending champion Jason Day trailing by seven shots, with Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy nine behind.

Co-leader Stanley, a one-time PGA Tour victor, was pleased to overcome a poor start. Vijay Singh's 68 put him alone in fourth. He has four top-16 finishes at the Players (A T-6 in 2011 is his best), however, he's also missed the cut in four of his previous seven attempts at the Pete Dye track.

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"You just kind of have to remind yourself that even though you're a little bit over par, on the leaderboard I was still in a pretty good spot", Stanley said. It came a week after his only prior 54-hole lead, a six-shot edge that he squandered at Torrey Pines, a triple bogey at the last hole leading to a playoff loss to Brandt Snedeker.

"The history about the tournament, the golf course, everything about it, you see it as another major week of golf", Oosthuizen said.

NOTABLES: Defending champ Jason Day is at 142 along with Phil Mickelson (70), Adam Scott of Australia (72), Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) and first-round co-leaders William McGirt (75) and Mackenzie Hughes (75). "That's what makes this golf course great". "I think it shows probably in my attitude on the course".

The three-time major champion, whose last PGA Tour victory was at the Bridgestone Invitational in 2008, missed great chances from inside 10 feet at 16 and 17, and his unfortunate finish took a little gloss off one of his best days in recent years at his home course.

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But the front produced wind that sent the scoring average up almost a full stroke from the second round to 74.037, and it also will result in a turn from southwest wind to northeast for the final round, which will give players a breeze normally associated with the former March date. He saved par from the back bunker on the 18th hole for a 72. "I think anybody who makes the cut has a really good shot". McIlroy shot 71 in the third round and was 1 under. He made three bogeys on the back nine and then, torn between a 9-iron and a wedge on the 17th, he opted for a wedge to make sure it didn't go over the back of the island.

Singh drained a mix of long and short putts (he made a 38-footer at No. 11 and 24-footer at No. 5), then highlighted his day by brushing in a 27-foot birdie putt of the fringe at No. 12. Six other players were only four shots behind, a group that included Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, who thought he had lost his PGA Tour card two weeks ago until a clerical oversight was discovered. "It doesn't matter who you are".

Oosthuizen said it was important to keep a positive mindset and stay to a predetermined strategy when tangling with the devious Stadium Course.

Among those at 4 under was Jon Rahm of Spain, who couldn't get going because of bogeys that followed birdies and led to a 74.

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