PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- TPC Sawgrass was at its most vicious yesterday and the most vulnerable place to be was on the leaderboard at The Players Championship.
One minute a name (Adam Scott, Greg Owen, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk, Aaron Oberholser, etc.) would be prominently displayed, maybe even leading. The next minute it was as if they had been abducted by aliens.
Gone. Poof. Up in smoke.
"It was playing dangerous," said Sergio Garcia, who was able to walk the tightrope successfully.
"I could still feel it, even though I was playing really well and I wasn't in much trouble. But you could see that a bad shot at the wrong time could really cost you."
At the end of the day, Canadian Stephen Ames kept his composure and carries a precarious one-shot lead into the final round today. Ames sits at nine under par after shooting a round of two-under 70 yesterday. Vijay Singh and Garcia are one stroke back at eight-under after they each shot 70.
Another Canadian, Mike Weir, and Swede Henrik Stenson are tied for fourth at six under par.
Weir tied for low round of the day with a four-under 68.
Scott was the poster child for those who took it on the chin in yesterday's gusty 30 km/h winds. He started the day a stroke off the lead at seven under. Five bogeys and two double-bogeys later, he finished his front nine, never to be seen again, on his way to a score of 82. Choi shot 77. Owen, 77. And so on.
"On the 13th, I looked at Scott's score as he walked by me," Ames said. "He had just teed off and we were waiting. It said three over par. I was shocked. Doesn't that add up to 10 over for the day? Holy geez, it can happen."
Oberholser made an early run, got himself into the lead at eight under, then crashed hard on the final two holes with a triple-bogey six at 17 and a double-bogey six at 18.
"Club selection was the most difficult part of the equation," Weir said, "especially near the end of the day where those holes are so exposed. The key, when you finally are able to pick a club, is to be decisive. You just have to pick the club and trust it."
Ames, who was robbed of a win here four years ago by rank outsider Craig Perks, always has had an affinity for this course.
"I think the golf course sets up for me," the Calgary resident said. "It's not a bombers' course. It's a course where you have to shape your tee shots and the same on the second shots. That's the way I tend to play.
"Playing here is all about patience and course management and I've been doing that well this week."
Ames began the day tied for second at seven under, one stroke behind Furyk. Ames made a quick birdie at the first hole, then gave two shots back at the fifth on his way to a front nine of 37. On the back, he made four birdies and a bogey to shoot 33.
Weir began the day at two under par. He birdied the second hole then gave himself a huge boost at the fourth when he holed a 136-yard 9-iron from the fairway for eagle. He shot matching nines of 34.