There might not be enough Toptracer software for the weekend. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood — ball-striking phenoms, both of them — co-lead the 2019 Players Championship after 36 holes as both dropped 12-under 132s over the first two days at TPC Sawgrass. For Fleetwood, it was 65-67. For McIlroy, it was the opposite, 67-65.
Add them all up on Friday evening, though, and you get what should be a slugfest over the weekend from two of the best in the sport right now. Let’s take a look at the 36-hole leaderboard from TPC Sawgrass.
1. Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood (-12): How do you follow a 65 on Thursday? If you’re Fleetwood, you go with a 3-3-2 start to Friday. Fleetwood went out in 33 and came home in 34 with a birdie at the nasty 18th, and now he’s where he was last week after 36 holes — sleeping on the lead. He sounded relaxed and ready to improve on that 76 he shot in Round 3 at Bay Hill.
“For us growing up in Europe and playing in Europe, it’s a different style of golf over here,” Fleewood told Golf Channel. “It takes some getting used to. Definitely stretches your game. I’ve enjoyed it out here since coming over. I enjoy going to work when I’m over here.”
McIlroy closed like Fleetwood opened with a 3-2-4 ending to the day that may eventually propel him to his first title since last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. After opening the day with a bogey, he played the next 17 holes in 8 under and may not have missed a shot. Here’s a look at the top five in strokes gained from tee to green.
- Rory McIlroy: 9.5
- Tommy Fleetwood: 7.9
- Keith Mitchell: 6.9
- Ben An: 6.3
- Matt Kuchar: 6.1
T3. Jim Furyk, Brian Harman, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer (-9): I … did not see Furyk contending at The Players this week. He’s had a fine history here, I suppose, but the man is going to be 49 in May and doesn’t have a top 10 at this tournament since he finished second behind Martin Kaymer in 2014. Heck, he hasn’t even broken 70 since the final round that year (11 total rounds). Then he drops a 64 on Friday? Golf, baby, the best.
T7. Jason Day, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell (-8): Day made eight (!) birdies on Friday en route to his 66. All of this just a week after he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a few days after getting injections for his back, which he talked about earlier this week. “I’ve never had injections before, so we did four injections in and around the spine, and that obviously has alleviated a lot of the pain,” said Day. It’s clearly helped as the 2016 champ has notched 12 birdies on the week, which is second only to Ancer in total birdies made on the week.
T10. Rory Sabbatini, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Ben An, J.T. Poston, Luke List, Vaughn Taylor (-7): McIlroy wasn’t the only one galloping at the very end of the day on Friday. D.J. also played the last three holes in 3 under, and another star in Rahm joined him by making a bogey at No. 18. Either one of those guys has the firepower to get to double digits early on Saturday and run down McIlroy and Fleetwood.
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