Westwood leads The Players, Smith soars

·3-min read

Lee Westwood will get another shot at winning The Players Championship, and another crack at Bryson DeChambeau.

Westwood made a 25-foot birdie putt on the island-green 17th hole in a 4-under 68 to extend his bogey-free streak at the TPC Sawgrass to 44 holes.

He is at 13-under for a two-shot lead over DeChambeau (67), setting up a rematch from last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

They were in the final group at Bay Hill, where Westwood took a one-shot lead into the final round only for DeChambeau to make a 5-foot par on the final hole to beat him by one on a big-hitter's ballpark.

"I enjoy playing with him. I enjoy his company... it's like 'Round 2: The Rematch'," Westwood said with a smile.

But Westwood, the 47-year-old former world No.1 from England, has been around long enough to know that DeChambeau is not the only golfer to stand in his way of securing the biggest win of his illustrious career, especially on a troublesome course like Sawgrass.

Saturday was evidence of that.

Justin Thomas shot the low round of the day, an 8-under 64, to rocket into a shre of third alongside Doug Ghim (68), who is making his debut at The Players.

Westwood's countryman Paul Casey had six birdies and an eagle to offset his mistakes in a 67 to share fifth with world No.2 Jon Rahm (67) and Brian Harman (69) at 9-under.

Cameron Smith signed for a brilliant 7-under 65, making the biggest jump on moving day as he soared 39 places to be tied-11th and six shots off the lead.

The Queenslander chipped in off a sprinkler head for eagle on the driveable par-4 12th and sank a 42-foot putt on the 17th for one of his seven birdies on Saturday.

Not even a double-bogey on the 10th could take the smile off Smith's face, after only making the cut on the number at a course he lives nearby and regards as his 'local'.

"Felt really comfortable around the greens and putting all week... And then today I think I just hit the ball a little bit better," Smith said.

Jason Day (71) is the next-best Australian in Florida, just outside the top 20 at 4-under with Matt Jones (70, 2-under) while Adam Scott (73) double-bogeyed the 18th to be even along with Cameron Percy (73).

While Smith sank a monster putt on the island green on 17, Scott has mastered the hole this week, making his third-tap in birdie on the iconic par-3.

Westwood had the 54-hole lead at Sawgrass in 2010 only to hit into the water on the par-3 17th to end his chances. He tied for fourth.

All these years later, he gets another chance and looks to be up to the task.

For DeChambeau it's a chance to stamp himself as the favourite as the Masters nears, if he's not already.