PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — See if this sounds acquainted: Rory McIlroy enters the ultimate spherical of a PGA Tour occasion with an opportunity to win. Now, can he get it executed? In that case, he’ll should go Jon Rahm — a kinder, gentler Jon Rahm. There are another huge names within the hunt, with Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all inside shouting distance. With a tough climate day doable for Sunday, issues may get very fascinating at The Gamers at TPC-Sawgrass.
McIlroy would undoubtedly prefer to reply questions on his capacity to shut out tournaments. The 14-time winner on the PGA Tour has began the ultimate spherical first or second eight occasions in Tour occasions because the begin of the 2016 season. He did not win any of these tournaments, completed second solely as soon as and ended up fifth or worse 5 occasions.
A minimum of McIlroy averted taking part in within the remaining group on Sunday, which could really be a very good factor for him. He hasn’t received within the earlier 9 tournaments through which he began within the final pairing within the remaining spherical, going again to the beginning of the 2018 season, together with one in Dubai and one in Europe.
McIlroy is looking for his first victory since firing a final-round 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2018 — nearly one yr in the past to the day.
“In a very good place, not the perfect place I may very well be in,” McIlroy mentioned after capturing 2-under 70 for a 54-hole complete of 14 below.
For McIlroy to finish his drought, he’ll want a quicker begin and higher play on the par-5s than he had on Saturday. He bogeyed Nos. 1 and a couple of and performed the 4 par-5 holes at even par, after going 6 below on the par-5s within the first 36 holes.
“It is positively an space I would like to focus on and attempt to profit from these holes [Sunday],” McIlroy mentioned of the par-5s. “It’s getting troublesome on the market, positively with the way in which the circumstances may be. It’s a must to reap the benefits of the better holes.”
A calmer Jon Rahm?
Jon Rahm’s demeanor may very well be the important thing to profitable The Gamers. Gregory Shamus/Getty Pictures
If what occurred to Jon Rahm on the sixth gap within the third spherical of The Gamers on Saturday had occurred a yr in the past, he most likely would not have recovered.
Rahm’s second shot from 99 yards hit a couple of foot from the outlet … however bounced off the inexperienced. He confronted a troublesome up-and-down and two-putted for his solely bogey.
Rahm shook it off, completed the entrance 9 in 2 below after which had 4 birdies and one eagle on the again for an Eight-under 64, which left him a 54-hole complete of 15 below and a one-shot lead going into Sunday.
“About eight months in the past, possibly not that lengthy, I might have not completed Eight below [for the day],” Rahm mentioned. “I feel I might have misplaced my persistence. … Even the bogey on No. 6 did not have an effect on me that a lot. I feel most of it allowed me to shoot this low [Saturday] and shoot low each day this week.”
The 24-year-old Spaniard has already received twice on the PGA Tour and 3 times in Europe, however admits he had some rising as much as do final season.
“I’ve mentioned it many occasions: Final yr was a yr of private progress slightly than golf recreation,” Rahm mentioned. “It has been a piece in progress of a few years to get thus far, and it is arduous to do if you’re taking part in extremely aggressive golf.”
Rahm will carry that renewed confidence and persistence — and a one-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood and McIlroy — into the ultimate spherical of the PGA Tour’s “fifth main.”
Eight different gamers, together with Jason Day (12 below) and Dustin Johnson (10 below), are inside 5 pictures of the lead.
“Nicely, it is Rory McIlroy,” Rahm mentioned. “I imply, he was No. 1 on the planet on the age of 22, and he is a four-time main champion, so he positively is aware of the best way to get the job executed. He hasn’t executed it because the Arnold Palmer final yr, so I do know he’ll come out desirous to do it, particularly being The Gamers Championship, an occasion the place you should play actually good.
“So I do know he’ll come out weapons blazing, and everyone knows what Rory’s able to.”
When the important thing gamers hit the course
Notable Tee Instances For The Last Spherical
PlayersStarting occasions (All occasions ET)Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen8:04 a.m.Francesco Molinari, Scott Piercy9:07 a.m.Tiger Woods, Matthew Fitzpatrick9:45 a.m.Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson10:05 a.m.Patrick Reed, Adam Scott12:35 p.m.Dustin Johnson, Brian Harman12:55 p.m.Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley1:05 p.m.Rory McIlroy, Jason Day1:25 p.m.Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood1:35 p.m.
Tiger Woods discusses the dialog he had Friday night time after carding a quadruple-bogey.
After which the rains got here …
Apart from moments of drizzle and shifting winds, gamers just about averted unhealthy climate on Saturday. Which may change on Sunday, nonetheless, with forecasts calling for an 80 % probability of rain and winds blowing 10 to 20 miles per hour from the north and northeast.
With cooler temperatures, rain and robust winds, the ball does not determine to fly as far.
“Keep affected person,” Rahm mentioned. “We’ll hope for the perfect climate. I do know any person goes to return out and submit a rating like they have been doing the previous few years.”
Hey, the place’d they arrive from?
Two golfers who had been struggling after huge modifications turned within the rounds to beat throughout the morning wave on Saturday.
Schniederjans’ spherical may need been most shocking. The 29-year-old former Georgia Tech star had missed seven cuts and not using a top-25 end in his earlier 13 begins this season.
Early within the 2018 season, he tied for seventh on the Sony Open in Hawaii and tied for third on the Phoenix Open. Then issues fell aside, nonetheless, and he hasn’t had a top-25 since.
“I had put some Band-Aids on issues for some time to type of get by means of and maintain my card,” Schniederjans mentioned. “I type of solely hit it low for some time, then I solely hit cuts for some time. I simply experimented loads.
“I’ve performed now with so lots of the high gamers on the planet and watched how they play and the dangers they take and simply the extent they should be at, the management they should have with their driver and irons and the flexibility to form pictures and hit it excessive and low. … I noticed that I used to be not anyplace close to that management of my recreation that they’re.”
After attempting to alter issues on his personal with out a lot success, Schniederjans turned to famend swing coach Butch Harmon in December.
“It is an enormous change, nevertheless it’s extra simply getting organized with what I am doing with all the pieces about my golf recreation,” he mentioned. “I modified how I arrange, how I practice within the health club, how my physique is shifting, how my decrease physique strikes, how I exploit my arms, type of a whole lot of stuff.”
Snedeker left Harmon for swing coach John Tillery two years in the past, and now he is again with longtime coach Tim Anderson. He hasn’t had a top-10 since tying for second on the Safeway Open in October and was 50th or worse or missed the lower in every of his earlier 4 Tour occasions.
“[Anderson] informed me once we first met, he mentioned, ‘Hear, it isn’t going to be as arduous as you suppose it’s to type of get you again to the place you’re feeling like you possibly can play good golf once more,'” Snedeker mentioned. “It is a totally different mindset of attempting to make use of my physique to swing the golf membership as a substitute of utilizing my arms to swing the golf membership.”