Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Lee Westwood‘s career has been defined by close misses in golf’s biggest tournaments.
He’s 18 holes away from finally capturing a big one.
The 47-year-old shot a four-under 68 in Saturday’s third round of the 2021 Players Championship, putting him at 13 under for the event and giving him a two-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau heading into the final round.
Westwood has finished in the top three in majors six times—doing so at least once in every event—and has five top-10s in The Players Championship without finishing the job. His run at this week’s Players is a bit of a surprise given Westwood has either not played or been out of contention at most top events in recent years, but it continues a recent string of strong play.
Westwood held a 54-hole lead at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational as well before ceding the event to DeChambeau by one stroke.
“The nice thing for me about this week is not letting last week affect me in a negative way,” Westwood told reporters after Round 2. “I’ve regrouped. I’ve still got the memories of last week, of playing well and hitting good shots when I needed to, but there’s no hangover from last week. It’s a feel-good experience for me this week.”
Westwood would be among the oldest golfers to win The Players Championship. Fred Funk, who won the event at age 48 in 2005, is the oldest in history.
Westwood will have two of the game’s current greats right on his heels as he looks to finish things off Sunday. DeChambeau continued to use his rocket drives and excellent putting to card a five-under 67, highlighted by a string of three straight birdies from No. 10 to No. 12.
Justin Thomas is one stroke behind DeChambeau for the tournament at 10 under after blasting his way back into contention with a sensational eight-under 64 in Round 3. He opened his round with four straight birdies to make the turn at 32 before hitting his second shot on the par-five 16th within seven inches for a tap-in eagle on his way to a matching 32 on the back.
Doug Ghim, a 24-year-old playing in his first Players Championship, shot a four-under 68 to sit with Thomas in a tie for third.
Paul Casey, Jon Rahm and Brian Harman are tied for fifth at nine under.