Scottie Scheffler has ‘comfortable’ two-shot lead at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Well, would you look at who’s leading The Players Championship?

Surprise, surprise. Scottie Scheffler is atop the leaderboard entering the final round Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.

Scheffler, who was born in Bergen County, N.J., then grew up in the Dallas area, has spent the better part of two years lurking around PGA Tour leads, winning five times since the beginning of the 2021-22 season, a run that includes the 2022 Masters.

And he looks so damned comfortable in contention, like he belongs.

“I feel very comfortable,’’ Scheffler said after seizing the tournament lead with birdies on two of his final three holes to close out a 7-under 65 and take a two-shot lead over Min Woo Lee entering the final round. “[I’ve] put in a lot of hard work over the years, and it’s been a blessing to see so many results. It’s been a lot of fun. [I’m] hoping to continue that going into tomorrow.’’

If Scheffler closes this thing out, it’ll be the second-biggest win of his career and it’ll vault him back to No. 1 in the world rankings, overtaking Jon Rahm, who withdrew from The Players on Friday with a stomach illness.

Scottie Scheffler feeling 'very comfortable' ahead of the Players Championship final round on Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler, how has a two-shot lead, is feeling ‘very comfortable’ heading into Players Championship final round.
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“I’m always hopeful to play well,’’ Scheffler said. “I prepare to be in these moments. I prepare to come out here and play well. So, when I’m at home getting ready for tournaments, I’m hopeful that I’m going to be in this position, and I’ve been fortunate so far this year that the hard work is continuing to pay off.’’

Scheffler’s 14-under leads Lee at 12-under, Cam Davis at 10-under and Tommy Fleetwood, Aaron Rai, Chad Ramey and Christiaan Bezuidenhout at 9-under.

Scheffler needs a finish of top-5 or better to return to No. 1. That, he said, will be the furthest thing from his mind entering Sunday.

“I think the ranking is just an algorithm,’’ he said. “I would much rather win the tournament than get back to No. 1 in the world. So, that will be my focus going into tomorrow — just going out and having a solid round of golf, and the rankings will be the rankings. I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try and win the golf tournament.

“I’ve been on a lot of leaderboards. It’s a lot of more fun being in the lead than it is being in 20th going into today and shooting 2-under and finishing 30th or whatever it is. It’s a lot more fun being in the arena and being in the moment.’’

There are few who look more at ease in the pressure of the moment than Scheffler.

Min Woo Lee of Australia walks off the 18th green during the third round of the Players Championship.
Min Woo Lee of Australia walks off the 18th green during the third round of the Players Championship.
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Lee, a 24-year-old Australian, looked comfortable playing in his first Players Championship. He eagled his first hole of the day en route to a 31 on the front nine, and his round was without a blemish until he bogeyed the 18th hole to fall out of a tie for the lead.

Scheffler, playing in the group behind Lee, followed that with a birdie on 18 to extend his lead to two shots. He and Lee will be paired Sunday in the final group, something Lee said he’s embracing.

“Tomorrow could be the biggest day of my life, but I’m going to go out there and have fun again,’’ he said. “It’s been the motto for the last three months. Not taking it too seriously. I like to have fun and interact with the fans when I can. Unlike others, you know, they’re very serious.

“I’m just out here enjoying my time. I just crept into this tournament [by being just inside the top-50 in the world rankings] and making the most of it and soaking it all in. I just had a lot of fun today. Did a lot of the right things, and hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.’’

Lee acknowledged the challenge.

“Sawgrass is scary,’’ he said. “There’s a lot of times where people have faltered and you don’t want to be one of those.’’

Lee praised Scheffler for his uncanny consistency.

“That’s where I want to be one day,’’ he said. “He’s just, I guess, so comfortable being out here and he’s found his craft, and that’s where every player wants to be. Hopefully, I can take him down tomorrow, but it will, it would be a big effort.’’