"I knew I had to be kind of smart going at certain pins, trying to take opportunities when I had them and to not make any mistakes and obviously a clean card today was very good".
Garcia revealed after his round of 73, that his shot on the 17th was the fifth hole-in-one he shot during a tournament, and 12th overall.
"I felt like a little bit in chains on Thursday because of how overwhelming everything has been", Garcia said.
Major champion Louis Oosthuizen sits just a shot behind, with young Korean phenom Si Woo Kim another back at 7-under-par.
The way the TPC Sawgrass played Saturday, with a relentless wind and trouble at every turn, the final round has plenty of possibilities.
Jon Rahm of Spain went into the third round in a tie for 10th, just five shots behind. Phil Mickelson shot 78.
LOOKING FOR FIRST: Italy's Francesco Molinari shot a 3-under 69 Thursday in his bid to join Craig Perks (2002) and Tim Clark (2010) as the only players in PGA Tour history to earn their first career victory at The Players.
That what's made Ian Poulter's round remarkable in so many ways. "I'm going to need one of those great rounds", he said.
"I just like this golf course", Garcia said. It's a big deal.
"Yeah, we're in a pretty good spot going into this weekend, but a lot of golf to be played around this golf course".
They will be chasing a total purse of $10.5 million, of which $1.89 million goes to the victor along with 600 FedExCup points. "I hit some good shots then I would lip-out the putt".
The 37-year-old McGirt, who calls public course golfers who wear work boots and have their keys hanging from their belt "my kind of people", parlayed his two eagles on the back to a 5-under-par 67 and a lead he held most of the day, until Mackenzie Hughes, a Canadian rookie who won the PGA Tour's fall event at Sea Island, matched it late in the day when he turned in a bogey-free card.
First, he watched Masters champion Sergio Garcia hit a gap wedge that took one big hop, landed just behind the cup and disappeared for a hole-in-one.
Hughes had a solid round of five birdies and no bogeys.
The iconic design - pure crystal with a wider base that slims into a sleek finish - has served as the face of THE PLAYERS since 1982, the same year the tournament relocated to its current home that is the unparalleled challenge of TPC Sawgrass.
"This is a really tough golf course". "It doesn't matter what you hit off the tee".
South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and American Kyle Stanley are the leaders at nine-under, but numerous higher-rated players are off the pace, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who is even-par. Dustin Johnson shot 40 on the back nine, ejecting himself from the conversation altogether.
Rory McIlroy had to birdie two of his last three holes to match Garcia's 73, the four-time major victor having double-bogeyed the 10th and 14th in his first tournament since getting married and signing a multi-million pound equipment deal with TaylorMade.
Rory McIlroy could only manage a 71.