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Mickelson, Woods need some luck on Sunday at The Players
Updated 5/13/2012 11:50 AM ET
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods said Saturday he hit the golf ball during the third round of The Players Championship as solid as he's hit it all year — and shot even-par 72.

Phil Mickelson said he played "pretty good" and toured this windswept, treacherous Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in 70 strokes.

MORE: Kevin Na leads by one shot after third round RESULTS: The Players Championship leaderboard PHOTOS: Tiger Woods' career in pictures

Both conceded they now have to go very, very low if they are to win a second Players Championship on Sunday. While both aren't readying the white towel, and know others have gotten the better of the course, their chances are compromised by a course that has caused each fits over the years.

Woods sat at 2-under 214 after rounds of 74-68-72, and Mickelson is at 4 under after firing 71-71-70. Kevin Na, after a third-round 68, leads at 12 under par, one shot better than Matt Kuchar.

"There's so much danger out there," said Woods, who won here in 2001. "You can go out there and shoot a 65, but also, then again, you can also go shoot something in the 80s pretty easily, too."

Woods, who made the "better than most" putt in '01, hasn't been much better than OK this week. At least, he said, not on the scorecard. A yard here, a yard there, and an ideal placement for attack turns into a mission to survive, and birdie chances have been replaced by par — and bogey — saves.

"I played well today and didn't get anything out of that round," Woods said. "It was probably the most solid I've hit the golf ball all year actually. Even though I hit a couple off-line, but they were just hit dead flush. I just got nothing out of the round.

"It was just tough getting the ball close. I had a hard time. Some of the guys, I'm sure, are doing a better job than I did today. But I was having a hard time getting it close. Just the wind was dancing a little bit out there."

Woods figured a 67 or 68 would put him in contention heading into Sunday's final round. But he didn't make a birdie until the 11th hole, three-putted from 13 feet on a hole, and missed two birdie putts inside 6 feet.

"You can't fake it around here," Woods said. "You have to hit the ball well. And it's amazing how easy the golf course seems if you're hitting it well, because everything kind of funnels into these valleys, and you've got 15-footers all day. You figure you're going to make your share of those.

"But if you're off, now you've got putts coming up over mounds, you've got double- and triple-breaking putts. It gets tough.

"If you look at it as a whole, everyone who has played here, they have never really been that consistent here. I mean, everyone, going from the time to Jerry Pate won, no one has really contended here or been in contention, 70, 80% of the time. It's that type of course."

Mickelson, the champion here in 2007, said the course was a "very fair test" and can reward strong play with low numbers. But if you're game is a hair off, look out.

"If you strike it really solid, don't go at every single pin, get it on the surface, there's a lot of holes you can make birdies on," Mickelson said. "If you miss it fractionally, the wind will take it. It'll miss the green because the greens are firm. You'll have a very difficult up-and-down, and you'll end up making bogeys. And when (the greens) are this quick and this sensitive, you've got to read (the putt) perfectly, judge the wind perfectly, and have it be smooth around the hole to get some of the putts to go in.

"You just can't hit it hard enough to hold its line a lot of the time, and you need a little bit of luck on some putts."

Mickelson — and Woods — will need some luck in the final round.

"I felt like if I could shoot something in the 60s that I would be in a good position for (Sunday)," said Mickelson, who began his week by getting inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. "It's not that I'm out of it per se, but I'm going to have to go that much lower tomorrow, two shots lower than I was hoping to, which means I'll probably have to shoot something in the mid-60s to have a chance."

Posted 5/12/2012 5:42 PM ET
Updated 5/13/2012 11:50 AM ET
Tiger Woods couldn't get anything going on Saturday and ended with a third-round 72.
By Allan Henry, US Presswire
Tiger Woods couldn't get anything going on Saturday and ended with a third-round 72.

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