Woods posts 70; Alex Cejka quakes (not really)

May 09, 2009

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- So much for the theory that Tiger Woods was really looking ahead to the U.S. Open. Because after a third-round 70, he's now four strokes off the lead in the Players, with the leaders all facing a difficult stretch of holes on the back nine.

After beginning the day in a tie for 22nd, Woods currently stands in a tie for sixth behind Alex Cejka, who just sent  a ball in the bunker on the par-5 11th.

"You just grind it out," Woods said. "This is basically our fifth major and it's playing like a major. It's fast. It's hard. It's dry. You just keep plodding along."

__Update, 5:30 p.m.:__Perhaps we shouldn't rule out Cejka just yet. He got up-and-down for birdie on 11 to reclaim a five-shot lead.

Update, 5:41 p.m.: Another birdie for Cejka on 12 moves his lead to four over Henrik Stenson and six over Woods.

Meanwhile, Retief Goosen and Jonathan Byrd are also in the clubhouse at six under. Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press just noted that if Woods and Goosen were to play together in the final round, it would be the first pairing of the two since Goosen ill-advisedly questioned the severity of Woods' knee injury during last year's U.S. Open. (Not one of Goosen's smarter plays. A day or so later, Woods revealed that he had a stress fracture and a torn ACL. Goosen later apologized).

Update, 6:10 p.m.: Wrong again. Cejka bogeys two straight, shrinking his lead to two over Henrik Stenson, who came within a sneeze of knocking his ball in the water on 16.

Update, 7:06 p.m.: What do Alex Cejka and Sean O'Hair have in common? Both have carried five-shot leads over Tiger Woods into Sunday this season. How'd that work out for O'Hair again? Oh, right.

To his credit, Cejka didn't falter when Woods posted at six under today. How he fares when paired alongside Woods is another story.