15 May 2016

Lee closing in on top 10 at the Players

2:43 pm on 15 May 2016

Danny Lee has survived tough conditions on moving day at the Players Championship to sit in a tie for 11th, eight shots behind the leader - world number one Jason Day.

Danny Lee WGC Matchplay 2016.

New Zealand golfer Danny Lee. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 25-year-old mixed six birdies with four bogeys and a double bogey at the 10th to card an even par 72 and sit at six under after three rounds.

Strong winds and lightening fast greens wreaked havoc on the field, only seven golfers were under par for round three.

Even the leader Jason Day was susceptible to the tricky conditions, he overcame two early double bogeys to record a one over par 73 but maintain a four shot lead at 14 under.

Day, who four-putted the sixth hole from inside 20 feet, joined a chorus of players who described the greens as borderline unputtable.

"This was the toughest day I've ever had to play in my life," Day told reporters after eking out a one-over 73.

"The greens got a little bit out of hand on the front side. Some of the pin locations were a little iffy with how quick the greens were.

"I was very shocked ... That's all you could do, just try to survive. Talk about slow play. They make the course nearly unplayable."

Jason Day tees off  during the WGC match play quarter-finals.

World number one Jason Day. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Australian finished the day with a 14-under total of 202, having earlier returned to complete the weather-delayed second round.

His second round 66 gave him a tournament record-low of 129 at the halfway mark.

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan started the third round with three straight birdies on his way to a 67 and a share of second place with German Alex Cejka (72) and American Ken Duke (65) at 10-under.

Duke and Matsuyama were the only players to break 69 on a day when 76 of the world's best players combined for 149 three-putts, almost two per player. Nobody had a bogey-free round as the field shot an average score of 75.6 strokes.

After yielding plentiful birdies in the first two rounds, the staggeringly different state of the greens caught nearly everyone off guard, including officials.

"I've never got over putts where I've had to lag a 10-foot putt and try and get it somewhere near the hole," said Day, who looked mentally drained after avoiding any further minefields following his second double-bogey at the par-three eighth.

"That's the first time in my career I've ever played that way. It's not a lot of fun to sit there about 10 feet and try to two-putt."

Added Matsuyama: "I didn't think the greens were going to be this quick today. They just firmed and just really got hard. I'm just glad I got in the house with a 67."

American Matt Kuchar, who carded 72, said: "The greens are just frightening. There's zero friction on the greens."

PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell said the state of the greens was not planned.

"What happened today was just kind of a perfect storm with the weather," he said.

"We weren't expecting a (moderate) wind all day, and the humidity 30 percent, not a cloud in the sky. They just sped up on us."

When everyone had had their say, the leaderboard showed the tournament was Day's to lose.

Four men have enjoyed a lead of four shots or better heading into the final round at the Players Championship but only one, Greg Norman in 1994, won.