Golf-Woods leads Players by two with nin

May 14 [Tue], 2013, 1:51
* Pursuing second Players crown and fourth win of year

* Swedish rookie Lingmerth, Garcia two shots back (Updates midway through final round)

By Larry Fine

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida, May 12 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods was playing his familiar role of frontrunner on Sunday as he eased into a two-stroke lead with nine holes left in the Players Championship.

World number one Woods was 13 under par heading into the back nine at the Stadium Course with longtime rival Sergio Garcia, 49-year-old Jeff Maggert, Swedish rookie David Lingmerth and Scotsman Martin Laird bunched at 11-under.

Woods entered the final round tied for the lead with Garcia and Lingmerth, a confident position for the American who has won 52 of 56 times he held or shared the lead in tour events after three rounds.

The world number one, with girlfriend Lindsey Vonn watching, looked on his way to improving those impressive figures as he hit green after green and rolled in three birdie putts to offset one bogey.

Woods had one hiccup on the front side, a bogey at the par-four sixth hole when he drove into the right rough and had his second shot knocked down by a palm tree.

That was his first bogey in 20 holes at the Stadium Course and he came right back with a 14-foot birdie putt from off the fringe at the seventh to return to 13-under.

Garcia and Lingmerth both balanced a birdie with a bogey on the front side, while Maggert posted three birdies against a bogey through 10 holes. Laird surged up the leaderboard with six birdies in a bogey-free round through 16 holes.

Woods was aiming for a tour-leading fourth victory of the year and to become the sixth player to win multiple titles following his 2001 victory at the Players Championship, commonly referred to as golf's fifth major.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden was three shots off the pace at 10 under par after 10 holes.

Another shot back were Englishman Lee Westwood, through 12 holes, Americans Casey Wittenberg (9), Ryan Palmer (10) and Kevin Streelman (13).

(Editing by Gene Cherry)



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