Cejka leads as Tiger looms

Poulter in six-way tie for second

Last Updated: 10/05/09 11:47pm

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Cejka: level par 72

Cejka: level par 72

Sky Bet

Germany's Alex Cejka moved five shots clear of the field after a level par third round 72 at the Players Championship.

Players Championship Third Round leaders US unless stated -11 A Cekka (Ger) -6 T Woods -6 R Goosen (SA) -6 J Byrd -6 B Crane -6 H Stenson (Swe) -6 I Poulter (Eng)

He started the day two clear of England's Ian Poulter but in scorching temperatures and on rock-hard greens, the entire field struggled, with just five players shooting in the 60s.

Poulter had a 75 and and is in a logjam of six players tied for second that includes Tiger Woods.

The world number one shot a 70 and will be in the final group alongside Cejka on Sunday.

Five shots is the largest third-round lead in the 36-year history of the Players, but Woods has already overcome that deficit in reeling in Sean O'Hair for victory at Bay Hill in March.

Cejka birdied the fifth to go to 12 under but when he did slip up, also bogeying the seventh, Poulter failed to capitalise, bogeying the eighth to leave Kevin Na in sole possession of second place, only for the American to bogey the 10th and 11th.

Poulter fell further off the pace at the next hole, three-putting on the ninth green for a bogey six to slip to seven under, and there was more woe for the Englishman at the 11th, ranked second easiest on the course on Saturday, when his second shot from 254 yards out found water to the right of the green.

Poulter made amends from the drop zone 111 yards from the pin when he sent his fourth shot to seven feet from the hole but then missed the par putt to continue his slide.

Trouble

Woods had also found trouble off the tee at 11, and played his second shot from the base of a pine tree left handed with a flipped over iron.

While that paid dividends his third shot from out of position on the right fairway demanded a cut around a tree but Woods' shot never turned back in from the left and he was forced to settle for a bogey six to fall to four under.

The setback was short-lived, however, as Woods birdied the 12th and overcame a bogey at 15 with back-to-back birdies at 16th and 17th to get to six under.

The world number one flirted with the rough and the water on his way to the 18th green but got up and down for par and a round of 70.

"Just grinding it out," Woods said. "This is basically our fifth major and that's how it's playing.

"It's hard, it's fast, it's dry and you just have to keep plodding along."

Also moving up the leaderboard was two-time US Open champion Goosen. The South African birdied the 14th and 16th holes to get to seven under but bogeyed the par-four 18th to fall back to six under.

Cut

With 83 players making the weekend's play, tournament officials decided to make another cut after the third round to reduce the field further to the low 70 and ties.

World number two Phil Mickelson had briefly been at two over, the projected second cut line, but came home in 71, one under for the week, as did Luke Donald of England.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia posted a 73 to finish at one over while Padraig Harrington hit a 74 to finish at two over.

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