Smith will return for a monster Monday (Tuesday AEDT) finish in a tie for seventh, trailing leader Anirban Lahiri by three shots with seven and a bit holes remaining in his third round.

Ferocious wind and rain that has plagued the Tour's flagship event from the outset forced most players to complete their second rounds on Sunday before even starting their third rounds at TPC Sawgrass.

When the horn sounded to signal the suspension of the marathon day's play under darkness, Lahiri found himself atop the leaderboard on his own at nine-under-par through 11 holes.

Ranked 322nd in the world and showing no form coming into the $US20 million ($A27 million) tournament, the Indian underdog had five birdies on the front nine of his third round, then another on the par-5 11th immediately before the stoppage.

RIGHT: Anirban Lahiri leads The Players Championship, which will continue into Monday and perhaps Tuesday after constant weather delays. PHOTO: David Canon/Getty Images.

Lahiri was one stroke ahead of Americans Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III, who'd both played nine holes.

Fellow American Sam Burns and Englishman Paul Casey reached the turn at seven-under before play was halted, while Colombian Sabastian Munoz was on the same number through 14 holes.

Playing in the same group as Lahiri, Smith was at six-under and opted not to putt out on No.11 under fading light.

Leading the Tour for putts from four to eight foot, Smith is the only player from the world's top-10 on the leaderboard.

World No.8 and defending champion Justin Thomas, bidding to become the first man to go back-to-back at The Players, was tied for 18th at four-under with seven holes to play in his penultimate round.

"It's important not to get too far ahead of myself and just be very patient." - Cam Smith.

One of only two Australians to make the halfway cut, Smith carded a second-round 71 to move to four under for the tournament.

He had three more birdies to briefly climb to equal second before dropping a shot at the 10th.

The Jacksonville Beach resident said patience was the key to victory on a course he often plays for practise.

"I've played the course enough. I've birdied every hole around it, it seems like," Smith said.

"It's important not to get too far ahead of myself and just be very patient."

Officials remain hopeful of finishing the tournament on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) after a wretched week of weather at Ponte Vedra Beach.

Rain saturated the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass which led to five hours of delays on Thursday, four hours of play on Friday and a late start on Saturday.

When play did finally start on Sunday, Lahiri said it was so cold he could barely feel his fingers.

Sunday typically decides the winner. This time it was all about who got to keep playing into Monday evening with the tournament extended by at least a day.

Lucas Herbert survived the cut but, at one over through 13 holes of his third round, was unlikely to contend.

Fellow Australians Jason Day, Cam Davis, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Matt Jones, as well as top-10 stars Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele all missed the cut.