Stephen Morton, Associated Press
Paul Goydos chips onto the first green in the third round of The Players Championship.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Paul Goydos doesn't have a Q-rating, an endorsement deal or a top-30 finish in the last 16 months. What he does have for the first time in his career is a 54-hole lead — in The Players Championship, no less.

Seemingly immune to the mounting pressure and a course getting tougher by the day, Goydos seized the lead Saturday with a 10-foot birdie on the island-green 17th and a great escape on the closing hole for a 2-under 70 and a one-shot lead over Kenny Perry.

As well as he played, his self-deprecating humor was even better.

Asked if he had ever had a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, Goydos shook his head.

"But I've only been on tour for 16 years," he said.

He was at 7-under 209, the highest score to lead at TPC Sawgrass since 1999.

Perry saved par with a nifty wedge on the 18th hole for a 72 that put him at 210 and in the final group Sunday.

Sergio Garcia hit the ball as well as anyone for the second straight day, and got nothing in return. Garcia was tied for the lead standing on the 17th tee, but he three-putted from just outside 10 feet, then hit into the rough on the 18th and closed with another bogey for a 73, leaving him three shots behind.

Through three rounds, Goydos has taken 78 putts and Garcia has 96 putts.

MICHELOB ULTRA OPEN: At Williamsburg, Va., Annika Sorenstam shot her third consecutive nearly mistake-free round, and her 2-under 69 signaled that she may be ready to give Lorena Ochoa a run for No. 1 again.

The eight-time player of the year, plagued by injuries in a winless 2007, gave Ochoa and Jeong Jang up-close evidence that the steady game that made her the top female player in the world for so long is coming back.