Another Sunday in Florida will witness another joust between Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood. Seven days after DeChambeau took until the 72nd hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to swat aside the challenge of the effervescent Englishman, they will form the final pairing at the Players Championship. For now, Westwood is in the box seat, at 13 under par and two ahead of the reigning US Open champion. “It’s like The Rematch isn’t it?,” said Westwood with a smile. “It will be fun.”
Westwood’s performance in such illustrious company is once again extraordinary. His 48th birthday will fall next month; 23 years have passed since his first win on the PGA Tour. At Sawgrass, Westwood has dropped only two shots all week and none since the 10th hole of his first round. DeChambeau will have his work cut out as he pursues back-to-back wins.
“Westy is a fierce competitor and I look forward to the challenge, again, with him,” said DeChambeau. “His driving is impeccable, his iron play is impeccable and he makes putts when he needs to. Fortunately for me last week I was able to get the job done and I think tomorrow is going to be an incredible battle.”
The PGA Tour’s marquee event has a fittingly illustrious and multinational leaderboard. There have also been magical moments, such as Westwood’s 23ft birdie putt on the 17th hole of his third round. “I’ve always tried to have fun but it’s easier now,” Westwood said after his 68. “I don’t allow the game of golf to affect me mentally anymore.”
Justin Thomas’s 64 was the round of the day. The former US PGA champion was dropped by Ralph Lauren after using a homophobic slur mid-round in Hawaii at the start of 2021, with the recent death of his grandfather also affecting Thomas’s mindset. “Golf is so fun when you’re playing well and when things are going well it’s really easy, but this game isn’t like that, unfortunately,” Thomas said. “I’ve had definitely my fair share of lows this season and just a lot of stuff going on mentally that I felt like I’ve never had to deal with. Being irritable, being frustrated, emotional on the golf course is not good for me.” Thomas and Doug Ghim are 10 under. Paul Casey and Jon Rahm produced matching 67’s to move to minus nine.
Dustin Johnson used the aftermath of his third round to confirm he will not feature in this year’s Olympics. The world No1 cited scheduling concerns as cause to skip Tokyo. “I actually didn’t really ever decide whether I was going to play or not,” said Johnson. “I just didn’t sign up … It’s right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me.”