Ponte Vedra Beach (Florida): Jay Haas hit a five-under-par 67 to join Irelandís Padraig Harrington at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the $6.5 million Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass on Saturday.
Haas and Harrington (70) were both 11-under on 205, two shots ahead of three former winners of the event, Davis Love III (70), Fred Couples (69) and defending champion Craig Perks (70) of New Zealand.
Northern Irelandís Darren Clarke jumped from equal 18th into a tie for sixth with Corey Pavin (69) after firing a 67 for 208. World number one Tiger Woods returned a 68 for 210.
Haas, 49, bidding to become the oldest player to win the title, had an uneventful front nine containing one birdie and eight pars.
He then reeled off four birdies in a row from the 10th before bogeying the 14th. He also picked up another stroke at the 16th as he carded the dayís lowest round.
Haas is having his best season on the US PGA Tour for several years, ranked 15th on the money list. Despite having nine victories to his credit, he has never had much success at the Players Championship.
Competing here for the 26th time, Haasí best finish was a tie for seventh in 1986. In his last 13 appearances, he has missed the cut eight times.
Harrington played the front nine in even par with two birdies and a double-bogey six on the seventh hole. The 31-year-old then birdied the 11th and 12th before parring his way home.
The 31-year-old Irishman is playing in only his third Players Championship. In his previous two starts, he failed to break 70 and finished tied for 33rd and 22nd.
Perks had the most dramatic round among the leading players. Two birdies and three bogeys on the front nine left him at six-under for the tournament.
On the back nine, however, his play was reminiscent of his final round in 2002 as he recorded two pars, a double-bogey, a bogey, an eagle and four birdies.
He chipped in for his eagle on the par-five 16th, as he did last year, then holed a long birdie putt on the difficult par-three 17th, again as he did 12 months ago.
On the 18th, Perks hooked his tee shot into the water. He reached the front of the green with his third before two-putting for a bogey.