Jason Day, Steve Stricker and Xander Schauffele are 8-under. He shot a 70 and will be in the final group.
- No one ever played a better round at the TPC Sawgrass than Webb Simpson.
On a day when the course was scorable, with temperatures over 90 degrees seeing the ball travel further and land on softer than usual greens, McIlroy was lost in the haze. "I don't know, where is he at?" "It was a different feeling (from his round on Friday). Today was a little more survival feeling".
"I felt like everything was working today", Simpson told Golf Channel after his round.
The key stat was a front-nine number: Woods took only 11 putts going out, compared to 16 putts on the first nine holes on Thursday.
A bogey at the 14th and four subsequent pars dulled hope of a course record but Woods was purring when assessing his morning's work. The largest come-from-behind win after 36 holes was six shots by Raymond Floyd in 1981.
And a par at the last meant Simpson had to be satisfied with becoming the seventh player to shoot 63 in the Players Championship, the 32-year-old's 15 under par total also equalling the 36-hole scoring record. He punctuated it with a long par putt at the last hole and seemed to be one of the only golfers going anywhere on moving day. I hit a lot of good shots and it was nice to see a few putts go in. I tried to smash it and pushed it. "I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be, dropped a couple shots".
Former TPC winners Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott are alongside the American in a tie for 11th, while last year's runner-up Ian Poulter is the leading English player on five under after he carded a five-birdie 69. He pinned his first approach shot eight feet from the hole, made the birdie putt and was off to the races from there. This marked his lowest career round - from 66 - at the Players and best against par in any event since day two of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.
"I said to my caddie I would like to play the golf course he's playing", Jason Day said.
Woods said: "Yeah, to be eight under through 12, realistically, I could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 for the day". "But I'm trying not to dwell there".
The 14-time major victor, fit again after an injury-enforced spell off the tour, had struggled off the tee over the first two days and did not have too many realistic birdie chances. He was 17-for-17 on putts from 10 feet or closer. "There's been a round or two here or there, but this was really solid today with the putter inside 15 feet and that just makes you more comfortable". But 17 is a hard hole to get through. Feel like I'm putting well.
"I will probably need a top 10 this week and next to get myself into the US Open, but if I can swing it the way I did the first two rounds this week it's definitely within my reach". He birdied the 11th and, ultimately, the 18th. Simpson, a Broughton High School alum, tallied an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in his round Saturday.
Although he was able to extend his lead on Day 3, Simpson wasn't flawless, with bogeys at Nos.
That likely would be enough to grant Simpson his fifth PGA Tour victory.