PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — One week later on the PGA Tour, the two leading characters and the roles they play are still the same. Only the stage and the stakes have changed.
Lee Westwood went from surprise to delight when his tee shot to the island green on the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass stayed on the top ridge, and then he trickled in a 25-foot birdie putt that carried him to a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday at The Players Championship.
Bryson DeChambeau pumped his powerful arms twice when he made a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole, giving him a 67 and leaving him two shots behind and in the final group with Westwood.
That's how it was last weekend at Bay Hill Club, where DeChambeau came from one shot behind to beat Westwood with a par on the final hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"It's like round two, the rematch," Westwood said.
Westwood, the Englishman who was once No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and turns 48 next month, no longer has to go up a few classes to face DeChambeau, golf's fearsome, big-hitting heavyweight. Unlike Bay Hill, the Stadium Course at Sawgrass is all about position, not power.
Then again, the 27-year-old American and reigning U.S. Open champion is playing well enough for any style of golf course.
"I suppose if you sat Bryson down here and you asked him which golf course would suit him more, he'd probably say Bay Hill," Westwood said. "You can open your shoulders a little bit more around Bay Hill than you can around here. This place is a little bit more strategic. But credit to Bryson. You wouldn't associate this golf course with his style of play, and he's up there. It shows he can adapt his game."
It was the first time the same two players were in the final group at consecutive PGA Tour events in more than 14 years, with one big difference. This one is separated by seven days. Vijay Singh and Adam Scott faced off nine weeks apart — the season-ending Tour Championship in 2006 and the season-opening Mercedes Championship in 2007.
Westwood capped his round with a five-foot par putt, extending his streak to 44 holes without a bogey, and through 54 holes has dropped only two shots on a course where one swing can lead to a big number. He was at 13-under 203.
"He's making a lot of amazing putts, too," DeChambeau said. "That's what it takes to win golf tournaments."
Westwood has 41 victories around the world — at least one on every major tour of International Federation of PGA Tours — and knows better than to get caught up with DeChambeau, especially here. Westwood had the 54-hole lead at The Players Championship in 2010, when 14 players were separated by five shots going into the final round, and Tim Clark rallied from three behind to win.
Tied for third and three shots out of the lead going into this year's final round were Doug Ghim (68) — in this event for the first time, he was one of seven players who had at least a share of the lead at one point Saturday — and Justin Thomas (64), who started with four straight birdies and capped his round with a 5-iron shot that stopped inches away from the hole on the par-5 16th for a tap-in eagle.
First prize is worth $2.7 million, and nine players were within five strokes of the lead.
Westwood, who as a European Tour member at times chose not to play the PGA Tour's premier event, said this would be the biggest win of his career.
For DeChambeau, it's a chance to stamp himself as the favorite for next month's Masters, if he's not already. He also knows from recent experience that it might not be easy the way Westwood is playing.
"Mr. Consistency," DeChambeau called him. "I mean, his driving is impeccable, his iron play is impeccable, and he makes putts when he needs to. Fortunately for me last week I was able to get the job done, and I think tomorrow is going to be an incredible battle."