THE PLAYERS : PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — See if this sounds familiar: Rory McIlroy enters the final round of a PGA Tour event with a chance to win. Now, can he get it done? If so, he’ll have to pass Jon Rahm — a kinder, gentler Jon Rahm. There are some other big names in the hunt, with Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all within shouting distance. With a rough weather day possible for Sunday, things could get very interesting at The Players at TPC-Sawgrass.
THE PLAYERS Championship
Place: TPC Sawgrass – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Date: March 14 – 17, 2019
THE PLAYERS Live Stream
McIlroy would undoubtedly like to answer questions about his ability to close out tournaments. The 14-time winner on the PGA Tour has started the final round first or second eight times in Tour events since the start of the 2016 season. He didn’t win any of those tournaments, finished second only once and ended up fifth or worse five times.
At least McIlroy avoided playing in the final group on Sunday, which might actually be a good thing for him. He hasn’t won in the previous nine tournaments in which he started in the last pairing in the final round, going back to the start of the 2018 season, including one in Dubai and one in Europe.
McIlroy is seeking his first victory since firing a final-round 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2018 — almost one year ago to the day.
“In a good position, not the best position I could be in,” McIlroy said after shooting 2-under 70 for a 54-hole total of 14 under.
For McIlroy to end his drought, he’ll need a faster start and better play on the par-5s than he had on Saturday. He bogeyed Nos. 1 and 2 and played the four par-5 holes at even par, after going 6 under on the par-5s in the first 36 holes.
THE PLAYERS : PGA
“It’s definitely an area I need to concentrate on and try to make the most of those holes [Sunday],” McIlroy said of the par-5s. “It is getting difficult out there, definitely with the way the conditions might be. You have to take advantage of the easier holes.”
If what happened to Jon Rahm on the sixth hole in the third round of The Players on Saturday had happened a year ago, he probably wouldn’t have recovered.
Rahm’s second shot from 99 yards hit about a foot from the hole … but bounced off the green. He faced a difficult up-and-down and two-putted for his only bogey.
Rahm shook it off, finished the front nine in 2 under and then had four birdies and one eagle on the back for an 8-under 64, which left him a 54-hole total of 15 under and a one-shot lead going into Sunday.
“About eight months ago, maybe not that long, I would haven’t finished 8 under [for the day],” Rahm said. “I think I would have lost my patience. … Even the bogey on No. 6 didn’t affect me that much. I think most of it allowed me to shoot this low [Saturday] and shoot low every day this week.”
“I’ve said it many times: Last year was a year of personal growth rather than golf game,” Rahm said.