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Scheffler: I’m still in this! | Fitzpatrick proud of Sawgrass comeback

Scottie Scheffler remains bullish about his chances of becoming the first golfer to successfully defend The Players after battling with a neck injury in the third round.

Despite suffering the injury during Friday’s round which required extensive treatment both during and afterwards, the 27-year-old carded a 68 on moving day to sit tied for sixth on 12 under-par and five shots off leader Xander Schauffele.

Scheffler admitted the injury affected his swing but is still confident he can overcome that to make a charge to retain his title at TPC Sawgrass in Sunday’s final round after shooting five birdies, including three down the stretch, on Saturday.

Scottie Scheffler chips onto the second green during the third round of The Players Championship golf tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Image: Scottie Scheffler admitted his neck injury was causing him issues with his swing

“I was battling my swing a little bit today but overall, I’m pleased being able to get in the house in a few under par,” Scheffler said. “I wouldn’t say I’m out of the tournament; I’m definitely on the outside looking in, but a hot day tomorrow could go a long way.

“Overall, I’m just using my hands a lot, trying to hit shots. I would describe it as kind of slapping it around out there is kind of what I’m doing. If I turn my head, right there is where I start feeling pain. It’s not going to make it any worse. If anything, today playing golf may have loosened it up a touch, which is great news really.

Scottie Scheffler chips onto the second green during the third round of The Players Championship golf tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Image: Scottie Scheffler admitted his neck injury was causing him issues with his swing

“A lot of times after you get an acute injury like that, waking up the next morning can be pretty tough. This morning I woke up feeling better than yesterday, and hopefully I’ll feel even better tomorrow.

“It’s great to have a nice finish like that. Standing on 16 tee I would say that I was pretty significantly out of the tournament, and to birdie the last three holes, still have a chance. I think I’m still within shooting distance.”

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Xander Schauffele holed a huge putt on the par four 14th hole at TPC Sawgrass to take the outright lead at The Players Championship.

Scheffler will head out alongside compatriot Nate Lashley (11 under) in the fourth-last pairing on Sunday at 5.10pm UK time and they will be followed by Matt Fitzpatrick and Sahith Theegala.

Fitzpatrick had endured a difficult front nine on Saturday which included a double-bogey on the fourth and a bogey on the fifth, seemingly dropping him out of contention to become the first Englishman to win The Players.

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But a birdie on the ninth sparked a remarkable fightback from the 2022 US Open champion and he went on to card a blemish-free back nine, making birdies on four of the last five holes to card a 68 and sit tied for fourth at four under with Maverick McNealy.

Fitzpatrick put the mid-round change in fortunes down to a new mental approach he has tried to adopt for this tournament, although he believes he needs to master the fourth hole as well if he is to stand a chance of snatching the title.

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Brandel Chamblee analyses the improvement in Matthew Fitzpatrick’s driving performance following a year of troubles.

“I’m massively proud,” Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports Golf. “I’ve been trying to work on my attitude this week and it helps when things are going right, and I’ve been playing well the first two days.

“I think that’s what did help me today, I felt like I’d been playing well and felt like I could turn it around.

“My driving has been a strength so far this week and if I can play a bit better on the fourth hole, that will be a start. We’ll just continue doing the same and trying to be smart.”

Who will win The Players? Watch the final round live on Sunday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf, with a host of extra feeds available via the red button. Stream the PGA Tour and more with NOW.

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