McIlroy, Fleetwood share lead at Gamers Championship


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy was almost pretty much as good on the finish as Tommy Fleetwood was at the beginning Friday in The Gamers Championship.

McIlroy hit a Four-iron to 10 ft for eagle, ran in a 20-foot birdie putt on the island-green 17th after which made a daring play with a towering shot over a tree 20 ft in entrance of him to safe par. It added to a 7-under 65, and his finest begin on the TPC Sawgrass in his 10 appearances.

Fleetwood took his good swing from the vary to the course and watched it repay with a birdie-eagle-birdie begin that carried him to a 67.

They shared the lead at 12-under 132, three photographs away from anybody else.

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Tiger Woods reacts to hitting his drive into the water on the 17th hole during the second round of The Players Championship golf tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Tiger Woods reacts to hitting his drive into the water on the 17th gap in the course of the second spherical of The Gamers Championship golf match Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Seaside, Fla. (AP Picture/Gerald Herbert)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy was almost pretty much as good on the finish as Tommy Fleetwood was at the beginning Friday in The Gamers Championship.

McIlroy hit a Four-iron to 10 ft for eagle, ran in a 20-foot birdie putt on the island-green 17th after which made a daring play with a towering shot over a tree 20 ft in entrance of him to safe par. It added to a 7-under 65, and his finest begin on the TPC Sawgrass in his 10 appearances.

Fleetwood took his good swing from the vary to the course and watched it repay with a birdie-eagle-birdie begin that carried him to a 67.

They shared the lead at 12-under 132, three photographs away from anybody else.

And so they have been 9 photographs forward of Tiger Woods, who performed stable golf aside from one gap — the unsuitable gap. Woods put two balls into the water on the infamous par-Three 17th, resulting in a quadruple bogey that worn out a great begin and compelled him to accept a 71.

Kevin Kisner hits out of the sand on the 16th hole during the second round of The Players Championship golf tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Kevin Kisner hits out of the sand on the 16th gap in the course of the second spherical of The Gamers Championship golf match Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Seaside, Fla. (AP Picture/Gerald Herbert)

Given the character of this golf course — and a forecast for a unique wind — the enjoyable may simply be beginning.

And that is so far as McIlroy was prepared to look.

“Profitable is a byproduct of doing all the fitting issues, and I really feel like if I can proceed to do these issues effectively, hopefully I do find yourself with the trophy on Sunday,” he mentioned. “However there’s quite a lot of golf to play earlier than that.”

The largest shock from the group three photographs behind is perhaps the 48-year-old Furyk, primarily as a result of he did not suppose he can be at Sawgrass. After devoting two years as Ryder Cup captain, his world rating plunged 194 spots to No. 231. However an amazing end at the beginning of the Florida swing to tie for ninth moved him excessive sufficient within the FedEx Cup to get into the strongest subject in golf on the final minute.

After which he delivered his finest rating in 80 rounds over 25 years, a 64 that put him within the group at 9-under 135.

“I believed this was an off week,” Furyk mentioned. “It is a good reward, a possibility.”

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his second shot on the 18th fairway during the second round of The Players Championship golf tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Eire, watches his second shot on the 18th fairway in the course of the second spherical of The Gamers Championship golf match Friday, March 15, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Seaside, Fla. (AP Picture/Gerald Herbert)

Ian Poulter, who resurrected his PGA Tour profession with a runner-up end at The Gamers two years in the past, had a 66 and was three photographs behind, together with Abraham Ancer of Mexico (66) and Brian Harman (69).

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 participant, additionally had an eagle-birdie-par end for a 68. He was within the group 5 photographs behind.

McIlroy hasn’t received since Bay Hill a 12 months in the past, although he has had his possibilities for extra. The Arnold Palmer Invitational final week was the ninth time in his final 30 tournaments relationship to the beginning of 2018 that he performed within the closing group with out successful.

However he has been affected person. He says his angle has been good all 12 months, and it may be examined severely on the Gamers Stadium Course. There isn’t any sense of panic or a necessity to start out urgent if he will get into that place once more.

“I simply have to preserve seeing pink numbers,” McIlroy mentioned. “I do not want a win. I am not placing myself below strain to … once more, successful is a byproduct of doing all of the issues that I am doing effectively. … If I deal with successful, what goes into that?”

After a sluggish begin — even par by seven holes — McIlroy poured it on by taking intention at flags when he might. He ran off 4 birdies in a five-hole stretch across the flip, after which blistered a Four-iron with a right-to-left wind permitting him to maintain his thoughts off the water to the fitting of the inexperienced on the par-5 16th. The ball bounced onto the inexperienced to 10 ft for birdie.

He adopted with a wedge to the again shelf on the island inexperienced and one other birdie to tie for the lead, after which made his nice escape by opening the face of a pitching wedge to recover from the tree, and letting the wind information it again to the inexperienced.

Strolling towards the inexperienced, McIlroy mentioned he instructed NBC Sports activities analyst Roger Maltbie that “taking part in with Phil the final two days possibly impressed me to play a shot like that.”

That may be Phil Mickelson, who did not play very impressed, in any respect.

Mickelson had one other 74 and missed the reduce at The Gamers for the sixth time within the final seven years. He wasn’t alone. Jordan Spieth missed the reduce for the third time in eight begins this 12 months, getting contained in the reduce line with a collection of birdies earlier than he was slowed by photographs into the water on consecutive holes. He had a 69.

Fleetwood is aware of a factor or two about quick begins. Final month in Mexico, he began eagle-eagle.

This felt simply pretty much as good, maybe due to his standing within the match. Fleetwood, who shared the 18-hole lead, was two behind when he teed off and again within the lead after simply two holes. He made a 12-foot birdie on No. 1, holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 second after which made a 25-footer on No. Three.

“I had an amazing vary session warming up, and all you wish to do then is be sure to try to take that out onto the course, which was very totally different,” Fleetwood mentioned. “I had absolutely the dream begin. … Right this moment was a bit bit extra up and down, however it’ll be. There was quite a lot of great things, and I simply really feel actually pleased with it.”