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 performed? If that’s the case, he’ll must cross Jon Rahm — a kinder, gentler Jon Rahm. There are another large names within the hunt, with Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all inside shouting distance. With a tough climate day attainable for Sunday, issues may get very attention-grabbing at The Gamers at TPC-Sawgrass.
McIlroy would undoubtedly wish to reply questions on his potential 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 for the reason that 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.
At the least McIlroy prevented taking part in within the remaining group on Sunday, which could truly be an excellent factor for him. He hasn’t gained within the earlier 9 tournaments by 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 searching for his first victory since firing a final-round 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2018 — virtually one yr in the past to the day.
“In an excellent place, not the most effective place I might be in,” McIlroy stated after capturing 2-under 70 for a 54-hole whole of 14 underneath.
For McIlroy to finish his drought, he’ll want a sooner begin and higher play on the par-5s than he had on Saturday. He bogeyed Nos. 1 and a pair of and performed the 4 par-5 holes at even par, after going 6 underneath on the par-5s within the first 36 holes.
“It is undoubtedly an space I want to focus on and attempt to benefit from these holes [Sunday],” McIlroy stated of the par-5s. “It’s getting tough on the market, undoubtedly with the way in which the circumstances is perhaps. You need to benefit from the better holes.”
A calmer Jon Rahm?
Jon Rahm’s demeanor might 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 few foot from the outlet … however bounced off the inexperienced. He confronted a tough up-and-down and two-putted for his solely bogey.
Rahm shook it off, completed the entrance 9 in 2 underneath after which had 4 birdies and one eagle on the again for an Eight-under 64, which left him a 54-hole whole of 15 underneath and a one-shot lead going into Sunday.
“About eight months in the past, perhaps not that lengthy, I’d have not completed Eight underneath [for the day],” Rahm stated. “I feel I’d 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 day by day this week.”
The 24-year-old Spaniard has already gained twice on the PGA Tour and 3 times in Europe, however admits he had some rising as much as do final season.
“I’ve stated it many occasions: Final yr was a yr of non-public development reasonably than golf recreation,” Rahm stated. “It has been a piece in progress of a few years to get thus far, and it is laborious to do while 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 underneath) and Dustin Johnson (10 underneath), are inside 5 photographs of the lead.
“Effectively, it is Rory McIlroy,” Rahm stated. “I imply, he was No. 1 on the earth on the age of 22, and he is a four-time main champion, so he undoubtedly is aware of the way to get the job performed. He hasn’t performed it for the reason that Arnold Palmer final yr, so I do know he will come out desirous to do it, particularly being The Gamers Championship, an occasion the place it’s good to play actually good.
“So I do know he will 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 Closing 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 prevented unhealthy climate on Saturday. Which may change on Sunday, nonetheless, with forecasts calling for an 80 % likelihood 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 stated. “We’ll hope for the most effective climate. I do know someone goes to return out and publish 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 large adjustments turned within the rounds to beat through the morning wave on Saturday.
Brandt Snedeker and Ollie Schniederjans each fired 7-under 65s to maneuver right into a tie for sixth and with a shot at an excellent end on the shut of Sunday.
Schniederjans’ spherical may need been most stunning. The 29-year-old former Georgia Tech star had missed seven cuts with out 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 way of and preserve my card,” Schniederjans stated. “I type of solely hit it low for some time, then I solely hit cuts for some time. I simply experimented lots.
“I’ve performed now with so most of the high gamers on the earth and watched how they play and the dangers they take and simply the extent they must be at, the management they must have with their driver and irons and the power to form photographs and hit it excessive and low. … I noticed that I used to be not wherever close to that management of my recreation that they’re.”
After making an attempt 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, however it’s extra simply getting organized with what I am doing with the whole lot about my golf recreation,” he stated. “I modified how I arrange, how I prepare within the gymnasium, how my physique is transferring, how my decrease physique strikes, how I take advantage of my palms, type of lots 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 minimize in every of his earlier 4 Tour occasions.
“[Anderson] instructed me after we first met, he stated, ‘Pay attention, it isn’t going to be as laborious as you assume it’s to type of get you again to the place you’re feeling like you may play good golf once more,'” Snedeker stated. “It is a totally different mindset of making an attempt to make use of my physique to swing the golf membership as an alternative of utilizing my palms to swing the golf membership.”