Rahm storms into lead; McIlroy, Fleetwood loom
Jon Rahm felt like every shot would be good and most of them were Saturday as he posted an 8-under 64 and built a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood in The Players Championship.
Five shots behind going into the third round, Rahm shot 30 on the back nine at the TPC Sawgrass and surged into the lead when McIlroy and Fleetwood couldn’t keep pace. His only bogey was on the sixth hole, and even that landed next to the pin until running over the back.
“Didn’t miss many shots out there,” Rahm said. “Really, really confident with my irons. Every time I stepped up, I felt like I was going to hit a good shot.”
There were too many to single out for the 24-yearold Spaniard, who was at 15-under 201.
McIlroy and Fleetwood struggled from the start and both eventually recovered, McIlroy sooner than Fleetwood.
McIlroy muffed a chip and had to scramble for bogey on the opening hole, hit a chip over the green on the par-5 second hole and turned potential birdie into bogey, and that was as bad as it got. He still was under par at the turn by running off three birdies, including a 4-iron to a foot on the hardest par 3 on the course at No. 8.
But after a two-putt birdie on the par-5 11th, McIlroy’s chances dried up. Even on the par-5 16th, he tried a low runner out of the pine trees and it came out so hot that it ran through the green and into the water.
Even so, he was bogeyfree over the last 16 holes and shot 70. And he can at least avoid questions about winning from the final group, something McIlroy hasn’t done in his last nine occasions dating to the start of 2018.
“I just need to hit fairways and greens. If I can do that, and take the opportunities I give myself, hopefully I can turn tomorrow into the best Sunday of the year so far,” McIlroy said.
Jon Rahm watches his tee shot on the 17th green during the third round of The Players Championship on Saturday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.