Players primer: Saturday storylines to follow at TPC Sawgrass
By Alex Myers
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The third round of the Players is underway. Here are five things to keep an eye on as you watch today:
__ 1. How will the course play?__ There's a 20-percent chance of rain starting at 5 p.m., but another warm, breezy day is in the forecast, meaning the scoring average that crept up about .3 of a stroke Friday should continue to climb with TPC Sawgrass drying out more. If the expected rain tonight and tomorrow morning comes, though, that could make things a lot different for the final round.
__ 2. Can Martin Kaymer keep this up?__ The German has showed the form that made him a major champion and the No. 1 player in the world, grabbing the 36-hole lead at 12 under par. Still, it's worth noting that he's now No. 61 for a reason. Kaymer has been playing better of late, but a T-18 at last week's Wells Fargo is his best showing on the PGA Tour this season and he only has three top-10 finishes in stroke-play events on tour since his win at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. But hey, that is another Pete Dye course. . .
__ 3. What about Jordan Spieth?__ If we've learned anything about Spieth in his year-plus on the PGA Tour, it's that normal rules don't seem to apply to him. He won as a teenager, he nearly won as a Masters rookie, and now, he has opened with two bogey-free rounds at another course that isn't supposed to be kind to first-timers. If there's one knock on Spieth, he's struggled in third rounds, ranking 115th in scoring average this season.
__ 4. Which other player in the top 10 seems poised for a big day?__ Kaymer and Spieth have a bit of a cushion on the rest of the field, but there are 12 players lurking at either five or six under. Of those, it's tough not to single out Sergio Garcia as the man to watch. The Spaniard seems in great spirits this week and appears to have gotten over a Sunday meltdown at this event last year. He should. No one has played TPC Sawgrass more consistently than Garcia, who made the cut here for an 11th consecutive time -- the longest active streak -- and who has a runner-up in 2007 to go with his win in 2008.
__ 5. Will No. 17 play a big role?__ It always does, doesn't it? So far 24 players have found the water through two rounds, which is nearly the average. On the bright side, today's front-left pin is a lot less intimidating than the back-right one that players will face on Sunday. And if they need any inspiration, Shawn Stefani's caddie, Mark Carens, won Wednesday's caddie competition with a shot to seven feet, eight inches. To the guys playing today, the bar has been set.