Holmes birdied the tricky 17th to make up for a dropped shot on the 14th
Players Championship third-round leaderboard
-9 JB Holmes (US), K Stanley (US); -8 L Oosthuizen (SA); -7 S Kim (Kor); -6 I Poulter (Eng), E Grillo (Arg); -5 S Garcia (Spn), P Cantley (US), A Noren (Swe)
Selected others:-3 A Scott (Aus); -1 R McIlroy (NI), J Day (Aus); Level J Rose (Eng), H Stenson (Swe) +1 T Fleetwood (Eng), G McDowell (NI), T Hatton (Eng), P Casey (Eng), V Singh (Fij) +2 D Johnson (US)
Full leaderboard

JB Holmes and Kyle Stanley will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Holmes carded a 70 to reach nine under par at the end of a tough third round and fellow American Stanley shot a 72.

They lead South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen by one, while South Korea’s Si Woo Kim is a further shot back.

Ian Poulter made a steady 71 and is on six under alongside Emiliano Grillo, while Masters champion Sergio Garcia fired a superb 67 to reach five under.

Rory McIlroy is one under after a 71 and world number one Dustin Johnson is two over after a 74 which included five dropped shots in the last six holes.

Patient Poulter keeps it steady

Poulter is looking to capitalise on retaining his PGA Tour card after fellow professional Brian Gay alerted officials to a discrepancy in the points structure used for players competing on major medical extensions.

The Englishman, who only played 13 tournaments last season because of a foot injury, birdied the second hole and from there on parred the rest to maintain his hopes of winning the title on Sunday.

Garcia had Augusta on his mind

Garcia is playing his first event since winning his first major at the Masters

Garcia carded a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th and an eagle on the par-five 16th to surge into contention.

A three-putt bogey on the 18th took some of the gloss off a superb round but the Spaniard is in a strong position.

Afterwards the 37-year-old revealed he brought his Masters Green Jacket with him to Sawgrass and admitted that thoughts of Augusta hampered his first two rounds.

“I felt rusty probably head-wise,” said the 2008 champion. “There were lots of thoughts going through my head, and the first day I was still thinking about the Masters.

“I was thinking, come on, you have to play well after winning the Masters, you have to, you have to, you have to, and I probably put too much pressure on myself.”

McIlroy struggles to make an impression

McIlroy, who will have an MRI scan on Monday after suffering a recurrence of the back problem which ruled him out for seven weeks earlier this season, could not find any consistency during his round.

The Northern Irishman made the ideal start with a birdie on the first, but the four-time major winner then bogeyed the fifth.

And although he did birdie the ninth for the third day running, birdies on the 16th and 17th were cancelled out by bogeys on the 14th and 18th.

Perez enjoys best round of the day

In-form American Pat Perez made the halfway cut on the mark of two over par but fired a 66 on Saturday, his lowest score in 43 rounds at Sawgrass, to climb more than 50 places up the leaderboard.

The world number 42, who was second in the Wells Fargo Championship last week, made four birdies to reach the turn in 32, before picking up three more shots despite the early blustery conditions.

A bogey on the 18th was the only blemish on Perez’s scorecard as the 42-year-old finished the day on four under.

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