Players Championship leader Lee Westwood is relishing his “rematch” with Bryson DeChambeau as they prepare for a final-round duel for the second week running.
DeChambeau may have got the better of the Englishman at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he will have a two-shot deficit to make up on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass after Westwood produced another brilliant performance on day three.
Despite looking uncertain on the greens early on, Westwood ground out nine consecutive pars and finally got a birdie putt to drop at the 10th, the first of four on the back nine, which included a superb 25-footer down the slope at the 17th.
His clutch par save at the last completed a bogey-free 68, lifting him to 13 under par, and he was excited about the prospect of exacting revenge on DeChambeau when they are again paired together in the final match of the final round.
“Really looking forward to it,” said a beaming Westwood, who has now gone 44 holes without a bogey on his card. “I enjoy playing with Bryson, I enjoy his company and his caddie’s company. It’s like round two, ‘the rematch’. I enjoyed last Sunday, and I’m going to enjoy this Sunday.
“I guess neither of us will treat it any differently. I suppose if you sat Bryson down here and you asked him which golf course would suit him more, he’d probably say Bay Hill. You can open your shoulders a little bit more around Bay Hill than you can around here. This place is a little bit more strategic.
“But credit to Bryson; you wouldn’t associate this golf course with his style of play, and he’s up there. It shows he can adapt his game.”
Westwood is wary of the perils of playing conservatively to preserve and protect his lead on Sunday, and he insisted he does not have a particular advantage over his closest contenders, a list which also includes the likes of Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Paul Casey.
“We’ll see tomorrow what my advantages are, if I can apply myself properly,” he added. “The advantage I have right now is the two shots.
“But, at the same time, I can’t go out there and be defensive. I’ve got to still go out there and play my game, be aggressive at times, be defensive at other times, and just do the right things whenever possible and go through the correct processes. Don’t get carried away with the situation and just try and do the best I can on each hole.
“It’s definitely not a two-horse race, and this is one of the toughest golf courses to front-run on, as well. It’s easy to lose your mind out there and lose perspective and the situation can get out of control on yourself.
“And people can come from behind. You saw Justin Thomas shoot a low round today, came from two under to 10 under. It is possible around here, and, like I say, it’s a tough front-running golf course.
“I won’t really be paying much attention to what anybody else does. I haven’t done that for a long, long time now. I’m working with my psychologist, Ben, and I’ve just tried to control the things that I can control, and that’s me.”
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