McIlroy eagles 16, birdies 17 to tie Players lead

Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley share Players lead

Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley share Players lead

With trademark honesty, McIlroy said what so many of his colleagues are thinking when asked about the glacial pace at the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

As the final pair attempted to fix their early damage, Rahm emerged as the leading threat, the Spaniard making three birdies in an outward 34 and, after another gain at the 10th, he drilled a remarkable 243-yard second to three feet at the 11th which he converted for eagle. Analysis of that has become a rising theme, one that will now be irrelevant regardless of the outcome here.

Rory McIlroy putts for eagle on the 16th green during the second round of The Plyaers Championship at Sawgrass yesterday. McIlroy's third round of 70 was far from a disaster but he appeared uncomfortable for the first time in this tournament; as demonstrated by his finding of just four fairways in regulation. The 28-year-old duly headed for a range session after completing media duties.

"Look, [a win] would be wonderful, but I think it's too early to start talking about that, " McIlroy said. I think it was Grillo hit the pin about 2 inches above the cup and nearly went back in the water, " Moore said.

"I just need to keep seeing red numbers. It's probably something very simple".

Northern Ireland's McIlroy and England's Fleetwood both recovered from poor starts to their third rounds to shoot two-under-par 70s. The scorecard blemishes ended there. A gloriously faded long iron to the par-three 8th, which left a tap-in birdie, was one of the shots of McIlroy's year, let alone this competition. There was just a single birdie thereafter. McIlroy had to make do with a par at the par five 16th having found water in two.

Fleetwood clawed one back at the next to settle his nerves, but McIlroy's touch around the greens again deserted him as he started with back-to-back bogeys before he responded with a 13-foot putt for a welcome birdie at the next. But then the bogey at the 2nd hole was a little disappointing.

Rahm had not particularly featured in analysis of this tournament before day three.

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Five players were within five shots of Rahm, the deficit the Spaniard made up on Saturday.

"It was a year of personal growth rather than golf game", Rahm said. "It was a great day". I would love to win more. "Every time I stepped up, I felt like I was going to hit a good shot". "So it was one of those days".

Fleetwood made a double bogey at the 1st, which appeared ominous given his Saturday struggles at last weekend's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Fleetwood had only one birdie on the slightly easier back nine, and finished with birdie putts from 15 feet, 30 feet and 18 feet.

Fleetwood kept a clean card in the March wind, kept his patience and was rewarded at the end with three birdie putts.

Jason Day's 68 moved him to 12 under.

However, Woods signed for a 72 to sit at three under overall, with three bogeys on the front nine proving costly. He was in the group five shots behind. He was 12 shots behind in his last stroke-play event before the Masters. And then this year, I really enjoy the different conditions that we're playing in.

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