McIlroy Needing Luck Of The Irish To Overcome Both Fleetwood & Rahm On St. Patrick’s Day

Rory McIlroy is going need the luck of the Irish if he is to not only over-come Tommy Fleetwood for a second day running but he’s also got to silence the threat of  Jon Rahm if he’s to capture the Players Championship on St. Patrick’s Day at TPC Sawgrass.

Rahm stormed his way to the top of the third-round leader board posting a 2019 tournament best of an eight-under par 64 to finish at 15-under par.

The 2018 Irish Open winner was two-under for his outward half but ignited the fireworks over the inward nine thanks to an 11th hole eagle, where the world No. 10 sent his 242-yard 4-iron second shot to just three-feet for his ‘3’, along with four birdies as the 24-year old Rahm eyes a third PGA Tour title, a seventh worldwide and a first since he muscled his way to a four shot victory last December in the Hero World Challenge.

“The last time I played this well was at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas was very similar to this, both the Friday round and the Sunday round.,” he said.

“It was two days where I hit it really, really well tee to green, very similar idea, especially with there the wind’s a little bit more predictable, there’s no trees (smiling).”

In contrast, McIlroy and Fleetwood could do no better than a pair of 70s to end their rounds at 14-under par.

The pair started horribly with McIlroy moving a shot clear of his victorious Versailles Ryder Cup team-mate posted a double-bogey but then McIlroy also dropped a shot in missing the green right with his second shot.

McIlroy then bogeyed the second to a Fleetwood birdie and by the turn it was McIlroy at one-under and Fleetwood falling back to two-over.

The World No. 6 then moved to two-under in two-putting the par-5 11th and in what would be his only birdie over the inward half.

Fleetwood chipped away grabbing birdies also at 11 but also at 12 and then 16 and 17.

McIlroy did have the opportunity to tie Rahm at 15-under had he holed a 10-footer but his ball slid right by the hole leaving Rahm leading by one shot with 18-holes to play in the $12.5m event.

And while McIlroy will have his hands full with Rahm and Fleetwood there is 11 players within five shots of the lead including past Players winner Jason Day (68) in fourth place at 12-under par.

“I’m in a good position, not the best position I could be in, but I thought after the start today that to play the last 16 holes in 4-under par with no bogeys was a good effort.

“So, I just got off to a bit of a slow start. I don’t mind bogeying the 1st, that’s fine but then to bogey the 2nd hole was a little disappointing.

“I then showed some character out there, showed some grit. Got a few back, it would have been nice to pick up a couple in the last few holes, but I’m still right there going into tomorrow.

“I just need to keep hitting fairways and greens, and I know it is the same old cliché, and grasp the opportunities that I can present to myself then hopefully I can turn tomorrow into the best Sunday of the year so far”.

 



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