Tiger hot, Simpson on autopilot at Players

Evin Priest
Tiger Woods shot a seven-under 65 on day three at the Players Championship

Webb Simpson is in cruise control atop the leaderboard midway through the third round of the Players Championship.

Simpson started moving day at TPC Sawgrass with a five-shot lead and has increased his buffer zone to six shots having just entered the back nine on Saturday.

At 17-under-par, former US Open winner Simpson has Greg Norman's 54-hole score record of 19 under in his sights.

Simpson leads New Zealander Danny Lee (10 holes) who is at 11 under, while Australia's Jason Day (through 12 holes) is a shot back.

World No.1 Dustin Johnson headlines a share of fifth at nine under.

Marc Leishman is next best of the Australians at seven under having posted a 67, while countryman Adam Scott has dropped a shot through 15 holes to fall to six under.

Earlier, Tiger Woods emerged from the wilderness to rocket up the leaderboard.

Woods, a two-time Players winner, started the day a whopping 14 shots off the pace.

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.

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.

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

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.