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Scottie Scheffler wins a bet with his caddie, Tom Hoge’s record round and Aaron Rai comes up aces among takeaways from third round at 2023 Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler won a year-long bet with his caddie on Saturday. On Sunday, he’s hoping to win the Players Championship, return to World No. 1 and earn the largest check on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler fired a 7-under 65 at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday to grab the 54-hole lead with a total of 14-under 202, two strokes clear of Australian Min Woo Lee.

Scheffler, who had to finish off his second-round 69 in the morning, vaulted into the lead with a birdie-eagle start in the afternoon. After pulling his second shot at the par-5 second hole, he lofted a pitch from the rough and jarred the 62-foot shot and then jawed at caddie Ted Scott.

“I had a decent lie there in the rough and was able to hit a flop shot pretty much exactly where I wanted to land it,” he said. “I was definitely fortunate to see it go in, and then Teddy and I got a year-long thing going that I just beat him on and he owes me something, but he didn’t have any of it, and so he owes me. It’s an IOU from Teddy.”

Scheffler made his lone bogey at the seventh, but it barely slowed him down as he bounced back with consecutive birdies. He closed with birdies on two of his final three holes as he posted his career low at the Stadium Course and claimed his seventh career 54-hole lead/co-lead on Tour. The reigning Masters champion is seeking to win for the second time this season —he defended his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February — and supplant Jon Rahm as World No. 1. But Scheffler knows that winning will take care of the latter.

“I think the ranking is just an algorithm,” he said. “For me, I would much rather win the tournament than get back to No. 1 in the world. So that will be my focus going into tomorrow is just going out and having a solid round of golf, and the rankings will be the rankings.”

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