Saturday was an historical day at the par-3 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course.
Only one ball was hit into the water surrounding the Island Green.
Appropriately, it was by Angel Cabrera, whose nickname in his home country of Argentina is “El Pato” — the duck.
Cabrera hit a semi-shank, with the ball veering sharply to the right of the left-front hole placement and going into the water in front of the bunker on the right.
Since the PGA Tour began tracking official counts of water balls at No. 17 in 2003, the lowest number of balls hit into the water in one round was three in the third round of the 2003 tournament. The lowest number of balls in the water since the tournament moved to May was four in the third round in 2009 and the third round in 2012.
The most number of water balls in any one round since 2003 was 50 in the first round of the 2007 tournament.
With the hole playing 137 yards, players were content to bump safe shots into the upslope. The hole played the third-easiest on the course at 2.854, with 17 biridies, 61 pars, three bogeys and Cabrera’s double-bogey.
There have been 25 balls hit into the water in the first three rounds. The low since 2003 for the first 54 holes was 19 in 2003, followed by 20 in 2010 and 23 in 2004.
Rose penalized on 18
Justin Rose received a two-stroke penalty at the par-4 18th hole, which could cost him dearly when all is said and done at The Players on Sunday.
Rose hit his second shot at the final hole of the third round over the green and into the second cut of rough. When he addressed his ball, the grass “sagged” underneath his club and the ball oscillated slightly.
Or so he thought.
Rose and playing partner Sergio Garcia looked at a replay on the large-screen TV near the green and were in agreement that his ball didn’t change position. Rose chipped onto the green and made a par, which, at the time, left him at 7-under and in a tie for eighth.
After viewing NBC footage before he signed his card, there was still a consensus that Rose’s ball didn’t change position. But David Probyn, a European PGA Tour rules official, called from England and urged Rose and rules officials to look closer.
Finally, they saw on one magnified angle from Sky Sports that the ball did move, “one quarter of a dimple,” Rose said.
The score became a double-bogey and a 71 turned into a 73. Rose’s 5-under score is tied for 13th.
“It was a bitter pill to swallow and in the end, it is my own fault for trying to be my own rules official,” Rose said. “If the ball moves a hair, the ball moved. And I’m happy now. My conscience is clear. I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that eventually, the right decision was made.”
Scott releases details
As young hearts continued to break Saturday at the news Australia’s Adam Scott got married, Scott said it’s harder to sink a putt to win the Masters than asking a woman to get married.
“The putt definitely because I didn’t even have to ask,’’ Scott said. “We just decided over a conversation. We thought it was time, so we did it.’’
Scott’s wedding to Marie Kojzar took place the Thursday after this year’s Masters, but word didn’t get out until this week. The few people who attended had been sent invitations to a party and had no idea what they were to see.
“My parents did know, we swore them to secrecy,’’ Scott said. “We just wanted it to be a secret for the day and then we haven’t told anyone to keep it a secret since but I think people didn’t want to do the wrong thing by me. So, I’ve got them right where I want them.’’
Scott says there are no plans for a honeymoon.
“Our life is pretty much like a honeymoon all the time,’’ he said. “We’ll just keep going on.’’
How big was news of the nuptials? The first 11 questions of Scott’s post-round press conference dealt with that alone.
Compton enjoys time at The Stadium
Miami’s Erik Compton is not really sure what to make of his effort this week, but if you have been through what he has in his life just showing up might be considered an accomplishment.
Compton, who shot 74 in Saturday’s third round and sits at even-par 216 has had two — yes, two — successful heart transplants.
As a child, Compton was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, condition in which the heart is inflamed and unable to pump as hard as it should. He had his first transplant at 12 and his second six years ago.
Now he’s focused on his PGA Tour career. He slipped into a tie for 54th after his 74 on Saturday.
“I came in here with higher expectations this week,’’ the 34-year-old said. “I made the cut not really feeling like I have my best stuff. Today, I tried to play real aggressive and I’m a fade player so a lot of left-to-right winds with right-to-left holes didn’t really pan out.’’
Saturday cut claims 11
Because more than 78 players made the cut, there was a three-round cut at 2-over that claimed players such as Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler and Jonas Blixt of Ponte Vedra Beach.
The Tour began having a Saturday cut to get the Sunday field to a more manageable number for Sunday’s TV broadcasts. Players still get credit for a made cut.
Also missing the cut, and badly, was Jeff Overton, who shot 83 with a 10 at the par-5 11th hole. He hit two shots into native grasses on the right, forcing him to take unplayable lies, and then added a shot hit into the water in front of the green.
Another deuce at No. 7
For the first 32 years of The Players at the Stadium Course, only two pros made eagle-twos at the par-4 seventh hole, Rich Beem in 2008 and Tim Clark in 2010.
That number has doubled in back-to-back days.
Stewart Cink used a pitching wedge from 142 yards to make a 2 at the seventh, following Charlie Wi on Friday.
“It was a pretty straight-forward shot,” said Cink, who finished with a 70 to move into a tie for 11th at 6-under. “I had almost the same yardage [Friday] with the same wind direction and hit the same club and hit it really close. There was a little cross-wind. As soon as I hit, I didn’t know what to say to it because it looked like it was going to be perfect. My caddie knew what to say, he said ‘go in’ and it did.”
Cink is in position to get only his second top-10 at the Stadium, odd because it seems to favor his controlled game.
“I picked up a little momentum from that shot,” he said. “I was one-over at the time, got the eagle there and I finished two under for the day. I was a little shaky in the early part of the round, and that definitely got my keel straight in the water.”
Morgan Hoffmann, the first winner of The Junior Players to make the field for The Players, continues to play consistent golf and shot his third sub-par round in a row with a 70. Hoffmann is at 5-under 211 and tied for 13th. Counting his 2007 victory at the Stadium in the AJGA event on Labor Day weekend, Hoffmann has shot six under-par rounds in a row. … The par-4 14th hole remained the most difficult on the course for the third day in a row, averaging 4.476. There were more double-bogeys (eight), than birdies (seven). … Jordan Spieth has missed 16 greens this week and gotten up-and-down for par every time. He’s 19th on the PGA Tour in scrambling (percentage of holes where par is made after missing the green) this season. He is one of 19 players without a three-putt this week.