Jason Day.
Jason Day.Source: Getty Images

JASON Day and Adam Scott have plenty to play for during the final round of the Players Championship, despite Webb Simpson grabbing the largest 54-hole lead at TPC Sawgrass.

The Australian former world No.1 golfers were left in Simpson’s wake as he tied Greg Norman’s 1994 three-round scoring record of 19-under-par 197, courtesy of a four-under 68 on moving day.

Simpson will take a seven-shot cushion over New Zealand’s Danny Lee (70) into Sunday’s final day – eclipsing the previous record lead after three days of five shots (Alex Cejka, 2009).

World No.7 Day was unable to reel in Simpson and a 71 left the 2016 winner of The Players sharing fourth at nine under, 10 shots off the pace. But Day, who won last week’s US PGA Tour event in North Carolina for a second title this year, says he isn’t any less motivated as he eyes a return to the top of the rankings.

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“Definitely; the end goal is to get back to No.1,” Day said. “If Webb runs away with it, there’s still second place.

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“It sucks to be second at times, but I’ve got to keep chipping away at (No.1) because they are all stepping stones to the bigger picture.” Day’s countryman Scott also has one eye on the world rankings. Scott (72) and countryman Marc Leishman (67) were next best of the Australians at seven under.

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Having dropped to world No.71 without a win in two years and a top 10 result in almost 12 months, Scott faces a month-long battle to qualify for the US Open. The 37-year-old needs to sneak inside the world’s top 60 golfers in time for the May 21 and June 11 deadlines if he wants to avoid teeing it up in sectional qualifying.

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“Absolutely, I’ve got a lot (on the line),” Scott said of the final day at TPC Sawgrass.

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“I will probably need a top 10 this week and next to get myself into the US Open, but if I can swing it the way I did the first two rounds this week it’s definitely within my reach.”

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WEBB Simpson has tied Greg Norman’s 54-hole scoring record at The Players Championship as the American remained in cruise control atop the leaderboard on day three.

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Simpson started moving day at TPC Sawgrass with a five-shot lead and increased his advantage to seven shots courtesy of a four-under-par 68. With a 19-under total of 197, former US Open winner Simpson matched Norman’s 1994 effort.

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Simpson will take the largest lead into the final round of golf’s unofficial fifth major.

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New Zealand’s Danny Lee (70) is outright second at 12 under and will join Simpson in the final group, while world No.1 Dustin Johnson (69) is solo third two shots further back.

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Jason Day was unable to reel in Simpson but a 71 left the 2016 champion at TPC Sawgrass sharing fourth at nine under, a whopping 10 shots off the pace. Marc Leishman (67) and Adam Scott (72) are next best of the Australians at seven under.

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Earlier, Tiger Woods emerged from the wilderness to rocket up the leaderboard. Woods, a two-time winner of The Players, started the day 14 shots off the pace.

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But 14-time major champion Woods clawed his way back into contention with a sizzling 65 – his best score at golf’s unofficial fifth major.

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He shares ninth at eight under alongside Jordan Spieth (65). Woods had the enormous galleries on the edge of their seats with a bogey-free front nine of six under 30.

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It was one shot worse than the front nine record of 29, set by Martin Kaymer in 2014.

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The 42-year-old Woods then jagged birdies at the 11th and 12th but that was it for his charge, with a bogey at the 14th.

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TIGER Woods turned in his best round of the season and his lowest score ever at The Players Championship. It propelled him up the leaderboard.

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Staying there might prove difficult considering the favourable scoring conditions at TPC Sawgrass.

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Woods shot a 7-under 65 in the third round Saturday, besting his previous low score on the Stadium Course by a stroke.

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He honed in his iron shots, finetuned his putter and was so hot through 12 holes that it looked like he might challenge the course record.

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“I wish I could repeat it more often, but honestly it was just a better start,” Woods said.

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“I got off to a much better-quality start.”

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Woods took advantage of warm weather, soft greens and little wind by making birdies at three of the first four holes.

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He drained putts of 15, 5, 10 and 17 feet, regaining a scoring touch that eluded him last week at the Wells Fargo Championship and in the opening two rounds in Ponte Vedra Beach. “Eventually I was going to put all the pieces together and today, for the most part, I did that,” he said.

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“I hit a lot of good, quality shots. I hit some shots in the correct spots, which was nice. I hit probably three of the best long irons I’ve hit all week.”

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Woods pointed to his tee shot at the 242-yard, par-3 eighth, which landed a little more than 30 feet from the hole; his second shot at the par-5 ninth, which stopped on the fringe from nearly 270 yards out; and his towering approach shot at the par-5 11th, which carried two bunkers and part of a pond before landing on the putting surface and leaving him a lengthy eagle putt. His only complaint was not keeping it rolling.

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He cooled off down the stretch, making five pars and a bogey over the final six holes.

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He pushed his drive into thick rough at the difficult par-4 14th and ended up with his lone bogey of the day.

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He had a chance to get it back two holes later, but lipped out a 10-footer following a stellar bunker shot.

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“To be 8-under there through 12, realistically I probably could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 (under) for the day,” he said. “But I’ll take it.”

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He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. But the biggest different was his putting. He needed just 27 putts, his fewest of the week.

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A day after making just one putt longer than 6 feet, he missed only one inside 13 feet in the third round.

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“It was nice. I made some putts today. That was basically the difference,” he said.

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“I’ve hit quality irons before and I was able to convert today and got rolling early.

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“This golf course, as humid as it is right now, these greens are going to be holding all day and I knew that going in and I knew I had to be a little bit more aggressive in there and put the ball in these sections, and I was able to do that.”

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Woods started the day tied for 69th, but moved into fifth after getting to 9 under at No. 12. His jump was the talk of the course, and the already huge gallery following his every move really started growing at the turn.

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By the time Woods and playing partner Mackenzie Hughes got to 16, the frenzied crowd was dozens deep and craning for a glimpse of golf’s biggest star. Jordan Spieth also shot 65 after making the cut on the number, and like Woods, he was at 8-under 208.

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Woods figured his stay near the top of the leaderboard would be a short one, with the leaders expected to push him back down later in the day.

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“I won’t be by end of the day, but it’s nice to kind of somewhat be up there,” he said. “These guys are going to go low again. I think that some of the guys will probably shoot better scores than I did out there. It’s definitely gettable.

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“It’s set up for these guys to go low.”

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