PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Storms left only two hours of daylight for Tiger Woods to start chasing down Jerry Kelly in The Players Championship.
He didn't even need that long Sunday.
With a birdie-eagle start, including a chip-in for eagle from 90 feet on a shot he had been practicing for Augusta, Woods made up the two-stroke deficit and then surged ahead with a 10-foot birdie on the ninth hole as darkness fell on the Stadium Course.
''It just feels good to end the day like that, end on a positive note,'' Woods said.
Better yet, he ended a short day of work with the lead.
All that's left now to claim the only prestigious trophy he doesn't own is nine holes over a rain-softened course, with Kelly and Masters champion Vijay Singh only one stroke behind.
Bernhard Langer was another stroke back.
''There are four guys with a legitimate chance to win,'' said Woods, who had a 33 on the front nine and was at 12-under par.
Twenty-two players will return to finish the tournament at 10 a.m. Monday.
Rain pelted the Stadium Course right after Woods and Kelly went out to the practice range, suspending the final round for 2 hours, 52 minutes and leading to the second straight Monday finish.
By the look of it, the conclusion could be just as thrilling.
A year ago, Hal Sutton built a three-stroke lead before the rains came, returned on Monday and held off Woods to win by one.
This time, the cast of characters is twice the size.
Singh, in great form with his Masters defense just two weeks away, had the lead until missing the ninth fairway and taking bogey. Langer, who hasn't won in four years, was plugging along with three birdies on a soft Sawgrass course and still in position.
''I would have loved to play on because I was feeling comfortable with my swing,'' Singh said. ''But you can't do anything about it.''
Kelly, trying to become the first player to earn his first tour victory in The Players Championship, wasn't backing down, either.
''I didn't play my best today and I'm right there,'' he said. ''I feel pretty good about the state of my game, that I can be in the eye of the hurricane and play pretty well.''
Kelly had said he would not be intimidated, that Woods was just another player who had as much pressure -- if not more -- to win the $6 million tournament. And he lived up to those words.
Then again, Tiger lived up to his reputation.
When the gallery returned from the rain delay and crammed into the amphitheater around the first tee, it sounded like the start of a heavyweight fight.
Woods landed the first punch.
His approach from 155 yards didn't go an inch past that, stopping 6 feet left of the hole for birdie. Kelly came up short of the ridge and had to make a par putt from equal distance.
Half of his two-stroke lead was gone after one hole.
Next up was the 532-yard second hole, where Kelly appeared to get the advantage when his snap hook went through the rough and on top of the pine straw, enabling him to hit a clear 3-wood to about 25 feet for an eagle putt.
Woods was left in the rough, couldn't reach the green but left himself in a good spot to the right. Chipping back toward a back-left pin some 90 feet away, the ball skipped up the ridge and trickled in for eagle as the crowd roared.
''It was reminiscent of the chip I was practicing last night back in the chipping area,'' Woods said. ''I was practicing those type of shots and getting ready for Augusta. It's the same chip you would find on No. 11, if you bail out to the right -- kind of chip it across the green.''
Such was Woods' focus that he barely smiled, tapping fists with caddie Steve Williams and walking to the cup as if he had tapped in for par. Kelly two-putted for birdie and shared the lead for the first time since late Friday morning. Even after Woods holed the big chip for eagle, Kelly managed a smile.
''This is what it's all about,'' he said. ''He's going to make shots like that. I can only get better watching that.''
Two holes later, Woods had the lead for the first time all week.
Kelly hit into the left rough and his approach toward the fat part of the green narrowly cleared the creek guarding the greens. From the top shelf, his putt ran past the hole onto the fringe, and he took only his fourth bogey of the tournament.
Singh missed an 8-foot par putt on the third, but recovered with birdies on three of the next four holes to pull into a tie with Woods.
In another swift turn of events, Singh became the third leader of the long final round when Woods' drive on No. 7 went right into the trees, landing in a wet patch of sand amid the straw. He caught a tree limb with his approach and dropped into a bunker, blasted out to 15 feet and missed the par putt to fall back to 11 under.
But he got it back, walking off the course on a positive note. He returns Monday for the second straight year, this time with the lead.
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