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McIlroy one shot off the lead heading into the final round at TPC Sawgrass

Jon Rahm leads the way after his stunning third round, while Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood sits in a tie for second.

Rory McIlroy is among the leaders heading into the final round at TPC Sawgrass.
Rory McIlroy is among the leaders heading into the final round at TPC Sawgrass.
Image: David Rosenblum

RORY MCILROY STARTS his final round at TPC Sawgrass just one shot off the pace as he goes in search of a maiden Players Championship title in Florida this evening.

Despite struggling at the start of Saturday’s third round, carding bogeys at the first and second to immediately give the chasing pack hope, he responded on the par-three third hole, draining a 14-foot birdie putt to pick up a shot.

A further birdie followed on the seventh, when McIlroy steered a 141-yard iron from the fairway to 12 feet and then rolled in the birdie putt.

It got better on the 238-yard par-three eighth with another birdie.

A four iron off the tee left McIlroy with a tap-in for a birdie two to leave him at one under at the turn.

McIlroy had a long eagle putt on the 11th but had to settle for a birdie after his 40-foot effort missed by three feet.

That was as good as it got for McIlroy for the remainder of the back nine, with the four-time major winner missing a birdie chance on 18 to reclaim a share of the lead.

“To start two over through two and finish two under par I thought was a good effort,” McIlroy said.

To play the final 16 holes in four under was good. I just need to keep hitting fairways and greens on Sunday. If I can do that, hopefully I can turn tomorrow into the best Sunday of the year so far.”

GOLF: MAR 16 PGA - THE PLAYERS Championship Rory McIlroy during his third round in Florida. Source: David Rosenblum

Jon Rahm stormed into the lead at the Players Championship on Saturday, firing an eight-under-par 64 to take a one-shot advantage into the final round as he chases his first win of the year.

The 24-year-old Spanish ace surged into contention after a scintillating exhibition of accurate iron shots and solid putting.

The world number 10 only narrowly missed out on equalling the course record 63 after finishing the third round with a 15-under-par aggregate of 201.

Rahm is hoping to claim his first win of the year after a remarkably consistent start to 2019 which has included top-10 finishes in five of six starts.

The Spaniard attributed his success on Saturday to a new-found mental durability.

“For the past year or so, I’ve been working so hard in the mental aspect of my game, trying to keep myself in check a little bit more,” Rahm said after his round.

That’s been the key this week. I’ve been so balanced, nothing like I used to be, not getting frustrated when I miss shots.

“I’ve been really proud the way I’ve handled. Hopefully tomorrow I can continue it and get a good round.”

Finishing strong

Rahm’s fireworks on Saturday came on the back nine, which he completed in six under to move clear of the field.

A birdie on the 10th was followed by an eagle on the par-five 11th, when he drilled a magnificent second shot from the fairway to three feet from 244 yards.

A laser-guided tee shot to three feet on the par-three 13th yielded a further birdie, and then two more birdies on the 16th and 17th took him to eight under for the day.

Elsewhere this evening, Ireland’s Seamus Power will start just outside the top 50 after his one-over-par performance yesterday saw him slip down the leaderboard.

The Waterford golfer had an up-and-down round on Saturday, but his ace on the par three third was undoubtedly the highlight.

McIlroy will get his final round underway this evening at 5.25 Irish time. Additional reporting from AFP.

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