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Lowry's challenge collapses as 'crazy' greens wreak havoc at The Players

Jason Day battled brutal conditions to take a four-shot lead into the final day at Sawgrass.

Lowry: struggled to a 78 in his third round.
Lowry: struggled to a 78 in his third round.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

SHANE LOWRY’S CHALLENGE at The Players Championship faded on Saturday as the field struggled to cope greens that felt like “putting on dance floors.”

World number one Jason Day takes a four-shot lead into the final round after he escaped with a one-over par 73 on a day when only six players broke par at TPC Sawgrass.

And Lowry, who started the third round in second place, could only manage a six-over par 78 which dropped him back to -5, nine shots adrift of Day.

The playing conditions sparked major complaints from the world’s top golfers, who ripped the greens as all-but unfair.

“I’ve never gone over putts where I’ve had to lag a 10-foot putt and not try to hole it,” Day said. “That’s the first time in my career I’ve had to do that.

“It’s not a lot of fun to have to try and two-putt from 10 feet. I never got really comfortable on the greens at all.”

Players Championship Golf Day: "I never got really comfortable on the greens at all."

Rory McIlroy, who finished the day alongside Lowry on -5, was even harsher in his criticism.

“That was borderline unfair on a few holes. A few pin positions were on crowns. You dribble a putt past the hole and it’s six feet by.”

Hideki Matsuyama, Alex Cejka and Ken Duke are Day’s nearest challengers on -10, while Italy’s Francesco Molinari finished a shot further back on -9.

Mark Russell, a PGA Tour competition vice president, blamed high winds and a humidity drop for the green conditions after two days of record low scoring.

“The moisture just went away and they did speed up. We just had a perfect storm that happened,” he said.

“I empathise with them but we didn’t try to do anything to speed them up.”

“I felt like we were putting on dance floors,” said Billy Horschel after a 75, with Graeme McDowell calling the green speeds “crazy” and Jim Furyk dubbing the firm and fast surfaces “almost impossible to play.”

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© – AFP 2016; additional reporting by Niall Kelly

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