McIlroy Soars To Sawgrass Share Of The Lead Posting 16th Hole Eagle & 17th Hole Birdie

A stunning 16th hole eagle and 17th hole birdie sent Rory McIlroy soaring high towards a first Players Championship victory.

McIlroy came from three shots off the lead with three holes to play to finish eagle, birdie and par in a round of 65 to tie victorious Ryder Cup colleague, Tommy Fleetwood (67) in the lead at 12-under par on the TPC Sawgrass course.

Ian Poulter (66) made it three 2018 victorious European Ryder Cuppers in the top-three with the Englishman sharing third place two shots back on nine-under par with USA Ryder Cup captain, Jim Furyk (64), Brian Harman (69) along with current Australian Open champ, Abraham Ancer of Mexico (66).

“It was just another good day on the course,” said McIlroy.

“I did everything pretty much the way I wanted to, and yeah, look, I’m really happy with the way everything is. My attitude has been great all year, and that’s the one thing I’ve been trying to focus on the most.

“The thing also is with the way the conditions are you really need to take advantage of the par-5s and for the most part I was able to do that today.

“Also, the course changed a lot from yesterday morning when we played to this afternoon, so I just have to concentrate on adapting and trying to figure out the way this golf course is playing, or is going to play over the next two days.”

McIlroy’s two rounds is the first occasion in his last four events of five this new season he’s posted two opening sub-70 scores and he looks to end what is now a 53-week winless drought.

If you wanted other positives McIlroy recorded 27 putts for a second day running and with his second day effort including nine one-putts, and clearly a continuing spin-off affect of working with Brad Faxon.

And after the ‘negativity’ surrounding McIlroy’s disappointing closing round last Sunday at Bay Hill, he continues to remain positive.

“You know, winning is a by-product of doing all the right things, and I feel like if I can continue to do those things well, hopefully I do end up with the trophy on Sunday, but there’s a lot of golf to play before that,” said the four-time Major winner.

And while McIlroy’s TaylorMade ‘Spider’ putter is finally delivering some sting he singled out a drill he’s been working on that is reaping reward.

“Everything is matching-up and while there is a couple of things I am still working on as sometimes the club gets a little a bit too far inside, and inside my hands on the way back, so I have been sort of doing a split-handed drill to keep the club on my toe-line halfway back and from there if I can get into that position I feel very comfortable and I can sort of do what I want with the ball,” he said.

“The thing is also the Spider putter is helping me to aim better and I feel like when I aim the putter better. I’ve been putting the work in and I do feel that when I do aim the putter better it does free me up more so that I can concentrate more on making a good stroke.”

After bogeying his opening hole on day two, McIlroy played holes two to 17 in six-under par.

It is the first occasion in McIlroy’s last four PGA Tour events McIlroy has managed opening 36-hole back-to-back sub-70s after posting a Players opening 67.

In looking back over his round, McIlroy was only in trouble once and that was his very first shot of his round when he sent his drive way right and then in landing his second at the back of the green, he took three shots to get down for a bogey ‘5’.

McIlroy again missed the fairway right at the par-5 second but brilliantly landed his third to just two-feet to be back to level for the round.

He pared the next five holes till McIlroy landed his tee shot at the par-3 eighth hole to 10-feet for a second birdie while a third followed at the par-5 ninth in holing a 3-footer after landing his second shot just off the green and pin-high.

A day earlier, McIlroy ended his first round at the same hole and with his second coming to rest alongside a woman’s plastic carry bag.

McIlroy then raced to three-under for his round and eight-under for the day when he captured his birdie in succession in brilliantly landing his 142-yard second shot to just three-feet to go to three-under for his round.

He split the fairway at the par-4 12th and after landing his second some 25-feet behind the flag McIlroy rolled-in a fifth birdie a fourth in five holes.

We then witnessed the highlight of McIlroy’s round at the par-5 16th and after landing his second to just nine feet and then very calmly holing the eagle putt to move to six-under for the round and up into second place and one behind Fleetwood.

McIlroy brilliantly kept the momentum going in a 21-foot birdie gem that did not look like missing the target.

To finish his round, McIlroy was well right again off the tee but played a delightful 121-yard second shot to 17-foot pin-high ahead of two-putting for his 65.

McIlroy also responded after his round to a question whether he needs a win to reinforce all the work he has been into his game.

“I just need to keep seeing red numbers and that’s all I need to keep seeing,” he said.

“I don’t need a win. I’m not putting myself under pressure to — again, winning is a by-product of doing all the things that I’m doing well.

“If you look at my driving stats, how I’m hitting my irons, all that adds up to hopefully shooting the best score or the lowest score of the week.

“So, that’s how I need to approach it. It’s not — if I just focus on winning, what goes into that? That’s not — yes, that’s the end goal, but there’s so many different little mini-goals you need to accomplish to get to that point.”

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