THE PLAYERS Championship final day preview: Anirban Lahiri leads with 27 holes still to be completed

No less than 17 players start the delayed final day within four strokes of the Indian leader at TPC Sawgrass.

After the weather-prompted carnage comes the cavalry charge.

In any normal circumstances THE PLAYERS Championship would have ended yesterday, but that was never going to happen when first round took three days to complete as the organisers dealt with thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Golf could finally be played all day Sunday, but that still leaves plenty of action for Monday. The halfway leaders still have nine holes of their third rounds to complete before the final lap begins.

As a consequence, the overnight leaderboard is packed.

Conditions had eased after the blustery wind of the first three days and the chasers took advantage on Sunday afternoon.

India's Anirban Lahiri closed his Sunday with a birdie-4 at the 11th hole to reach 5-under for his round and 9-under for the tournament, good for solo first, one shot clear of Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III who had both played nine holes.

Sebastian Munoz (through 14), Paul Casey (9) and Sam Burns (9) are a further shot behind on 7-under.

A resurgent Francesco Molinari was 5-under through 15 holes to reach 6-under and a share of seventh with Daniel Berger, Cameron Smith and Doug Ghim.

Hero of Sunday was Ireland's Shane Lowry who made a hole-in-one at the 17th, just the 10th in the tournament's history on the island green, and he responded in style, fist-pumping his playing partners and high fiving the galleries.

"You play this game and special things happen sometimes," he said. "It's pretty cool to do it there. It was a special thing to happen and I'm looking forward to turning on my phone and seeing the messages I've got. Not only that, it put me back in the tournament somewhat. So it was amazing."

TPC Sawgrass stats

It's a moot point if final round trends will be of any use in such a messy finish.

But for what it's worth, consider these numbers when the third round is complete.

Of the last 25 winners at TPC Sawgrass, 23 were tied fifth or better with 18 holes to play (the exceptions were tied sixth and T11th).

But 20 of the 25 were tied third or better.

What about shots back of the leader? 21 of the 25 were within three blows and none more than five back.

What they said

Anirban Lahiri

"I made a lot of good swings today, just kept it in front of me, made good decisions. It was a great day. I'm just going to try and do the same thing tomorrow. Fire at pins that I'm comfortable with and clubs that I'm comfortable with. When I get an uncomfortable shot then just respect it and try and make a putt. I think that's all I can do.

"I'll invite you to come and play the courses I played growing up. This doesn't compare. We do have some good golf courses in India, don't get me wrong, but I grew up playing on Army golf courses. To give you an example the first junior event I played at the age of 10 at Royal Calcutta Golf Club was the first time I ever played on a no-preferred-lie golf course. That's what I grew up on, greens rolling about six on a good day. This doesn't really compare."

Harold Varner III

"The draw has obviously been on my side, and I don't control that, but just playing a lot of good golf. I feel like I've always got momentum. Glad is half full always. I don't struggle with that part ever. Some people would call it arrogant. I think anyone that's playing a professional sport, it doesn't take much to get it going."

Paul Casey

"Started in the dark and got home in the dark. But it was productive. I played some good golf. I said to my caddie, it wasn't my best ball striking, but I putted really well, and that's been the crux so far this year. So happy with that. I've got momentum. I feel good about the position I'm in. I would have just kept playing. I was playing some lovely stuff and giving myself some birdie opportunities.

"Playing tomorrow is basically just do the same. It's going to be more of the same. Somebody like myself who kind of gets on a roll, look for that person."

Francesco Molinari

"It was freezing for most of the day. I haven't been in this position for a while, so it's all kind of new again for me. I guess experience in the past obviously can help, but at the end of the day, you need to step up and hit the shots, especially around here. Experience alone is not going to be enough."

READ MORE: THE PLAYERS Championship: The seven times when a Monday finish was needed

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