D.A. Weibring had a four-shot lead when he went off the 10th tee and a two-shot advantage when television went off the air. But a bogey-bogey finish dropped him into a three-way tie for the lead Saturday in the third round of the Tournament Players Championship.
"I was trying not to wake up the golf course," Weibring said after playing the front nine in a solid 32, "but the wind got up, and the course kicked up its heels."
He was one victim, losing two shots on the last two holes--and nearly losing more. His second shot on the 18th flirted with a lake and forced Weibring to play his third shot "with my heels hanging over the agua. "
Calvin Peete was another casualty of the course that found its teeth in the afternoon winds. Peete, the game's most accurate player, had tied Weibring for the lead on the 16th, but he then hit into the pond on the 17th when the wind let up during his swing.
It led to a double bogey.
Peete and Hale Irwin, a two-time U.S. Open champion, playing in front of Weibring, each had a three-under-par 69 and finished at 208, eight under par for three tours of the difficult Players Club at Sawgrass.
A few minutes later, Weibring limped home with a 72, including a 40 on the back side, and all three were tied going into today's final round of the chase for the $162,000 first prize.
"I can honestly say the money doesn't make any difference," said Weibring, whose only PGA Tour victory came six years ago.
"The money is wonderful, but I'm out to achieve something that I have worked toward for a long time. I consider the TPC a major tournament. It's something I want to win."
"Money is just the obvious thing," he said. "The added things, the 10-year exemption and the ego trip, those things can't have a price put on them."
And the final 18 holes shape up as more than a three-man race, Irwin said.
"The only conclusion is that it's wide open," he said.
Gary Hallberg and Canadian Dan Halldorson shared fourth at 210. Hallberg had a 67, Halldorson a 72.
Larry Rinker was next at 211 after a 71.
Weibring's struggling finish not only deprived him of sole possession of the top but also opened the way to a potential last-round challenge by Jack Nicklaus.
"Anybody within four shots has a chance," Peete said.
And Nicklaus, after a 71, was only four back at 212. He was tied with Payne Stewart, Gary Twiggs and Dan Forsman. Twiggs had a 67, Forsman and Stewart 69s.