Rory McIlroy is looking for his first win of the year
It says so much about Rory McIlroy’s talent, if not his star power, that he was able to make a bigger splash on the second day of The Players Championship here than Tiger Woods. While the 14-time major-winner hit two in the water at the infamous 17th, McIlroy shot a brilliant 65 to take a share of the lead alongside England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
What a weekend we have in store at the PGA Tour’s flagship event. McIlroy and Fleetwood will go out in the last group on Saturday, trying to stay on track to end the United Kingdom’s 32-year barren run in this tournament. They have a three-shot advantage over a group in third, including Ian Poulter, who fired a 66 on an enthralling day in which the conditions allowed the world’s best to take aim at the pins.
With respect to Fleetwood, McIlroy must be the favourite, despite his recent troubles in getting over the winning line. When he birdied the 18th for a 67, Fleetwood must have believed he would have a commanding cushion. The 28-year-old from Southport went through the first three holes in four-under – courtesy of a holed bunker shot for an eagle on the par-five second – and the fact he still has yet to break his maiden tag in the United States seems utterly perverse. But with McIlroy in this mood, he might be forced to wait a little longer.
McIlroy bogeyed the first, but picked up five birdies in the next 14 holes. On the par-five 16th, he conjured a wonderful second shot from 223 yards to nine feet. He converted the eagle putt and then on the 17th, he holed from 22 feet for a birdie. That old Rory swagger as he walked off the 18th said it all.
Of course, we have seen this so many times in the last 2 1/2 years in which he has, bizarrely, only won once. McIlroy has enjoyed chance after chance, but has fallen short on Sunday after Sunday. Indeed, on the last nine occasions has played in the final group on the final day he has failed to turn his imposing presence into silverware. However, as McIlroy points out, he has rarely held the 54-lead in this spell. That will be the very least he will be aiming for today.
Yet Woods is adamant that this is no two-horse affair and that “anyone who has made the cut can still win this tournament”. That is because the weather forecast is poor and if the gusts blow, shots can disappear like confetti in the Sawgrass wind. The island-green 17th will be particularly ominous in such a scenario. Although, for Woods, the 137-yarder has already taken a chunk out of his hopes.
Pete Dye’s malevolent creature is tiny but treacherous and has taken some high-profile victims in its time. But none have been any bigger than Woods, who but for a quadruple-bogey seven would be so much closer to the pace than nine strokes.
The 43-year-old came to perhaps the most famous par three in America on five-under, having started on the 10th and birdied the 12th, 13th and 16th. Woods was up into a tie for eighth and driving the Jacksonville fans into a morning frenzy. However in 12 minutes and a couple of ruinous swings with a wedge, he spiralled into a tie for 57th. “I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that,” Woods said.
With typical gusto, he fought back, playing the remaining 10 holes in two-under for a 71 and a three-under total, but he realised that all anyone would be talking about was his water torture. It could be said that, just like the 17th, Woods is iconic and notorious, himself. But here the Tiger was tamed.
His tee-shot was actually a tad unfortunate to roll over the back. “That was a good shot, it just flew a little bit too far,” Woods said. He declined the opportunity to play again from the tee-box and walked over to the drop zone. From there, he played a hideous shot which took one bounce before going “plop!”. “I figured I could handle an 80 yard shot, but obviously I can’t,” Woods said.
His previous worst score there was a double-bogey five. Yet his troubles did not even begin to warrant entry on the hole’s roll of dishonour. In 2005, Bob Sway hit four into the water on his way to a 12, “beating” Robert Gamez’s 1990 record by a shot. Billy Foster, Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddie, summed up the mental challenge best. “The finest players on the planet stand on the tee shaking like a s——— dog—and it’s only a wedge,” he said. “It’s amazing what it does to them when you have 10,000 people sitting there jeering and hoping you hit it in.” Yes Saturday should be fun.
The cut mark…
It’s shifted from two-under to one-under over the last 45 minutes, and that means Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka will all be here this weekend despite initial fears they wouldn’t be. A star-studded field remains for the next two days at Sawgrass.
The biggest names to miss out? Henrik Stenson, who finished on one-over, while Jordan Spieth’s poor form continues.
And that’s all from us today, tune in tomorrow for more live updates as The Players Championship really hots up.
Taps in for par – McIlroy cards a 65
He can’t quite muster another birdie, but it’s been a superb back nine for Rory. He started badly – bogeying the 1st – but that was his only error throughout his entire round. Six birdies and an eagle ensure he’s in the final pairing with fellow Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood tomorrow.
An aggressive approach shot…
Lands around 25 foot away from the hole on the green. Great, great effort from the lie he had in the straw. He’s got an outside chance of another birdie here, and the possibility of snatching the outright lead. Can he make it? He’s currently walking his way up to the green. Let’s wait and see…
Not a great tee shot…
The 29-year-old has hit it 347 yards off the tee, but it’s bundled into the pine straw on the right.
McIlroy birdies 17!
Brilliant from Rory, and now Fleetwood has company at the top on 12-under. A really brilliant putt from the Northern Irishman who sinks that 21-footer with total confidence. It shifted from left to right, but it was the perfect read from the four-time Major champion.
What a hole to tie the lead @[email protected] has birdied the 17th @TPCSawgrass.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/Fmi9tLPrxG
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Poulter reflects on his 66…
"It was good golf," he said. "I played real solid. Left myself the right side of the hole, which you have to do.
"That was a decent round of golf on a golf course that is getting more difficult.
"I was a little concerned coming back in March. When I’ve had success here it’s been in May. When I got here, in practice the golf course has been really soft. I only played five holes in practice.
"I did that a few years ago when I finished second, I only played a few holes."
McIlroy on the 17
He’s safely on the green, but a long putt for birdie.
The American follows up an eagle on 16 with a birdie on 17 to put himself within touching distance of the top with his score of seven-under for the tournament.
McIlroy eagles the 16th!
Well, that changes things completely on the leaderboard. The Northern Irishman shifts to 11-under after completing the par-five 16 in three shots. If he can avoid disaster on the 17th – which is easily come-by as displayed by Woods earlier – he’ll be in fantastic position heading into this weekend.
Fleetwood on his second round…
"Couldn’t have asked for much more," he said. "Felt really good from the get-go. I was really ready to play. I couldn’t have asked from a better start.
"18 was a massive tee shot for me. It does help a lot that I was driving it very well. Putting it in the fairway and giving myself iron shots. I’ve been working on my pitching a lot.
"Great finish (on 18). Feels great to finish with a birdie. It was nice to finish with that, you always feel better when that happens.
"I think just keep doing the same things. It didn’t happen for me last week, but I did so many good things. I seem to be in a good bit of form. Just keep that game plan, keep that focus.
"Two rounds is a long, long time but I couldn’t have asked to put myself in a better position."
Fleetwood's unlikely to lose his perch at the top tonight…
His five-under 67 looks enough to maintain his perch at the top of the leaderboard overnight. Unless Abraham Ancer can muster something magical on his closing holes, the Englishman will be the man to beat heading into tomorrow.
Tommy Fleetwood finished T-3 last week at the Arnold Palmer
Poulter bogeys the 18th to card a second-round 66
A poor approach shot from Poulter bundles off the back of the green, and it’s a disappointing end to a fantastic second round. That said, he’s still very much in the hunt to win this tournament and he’s put himself in a good position heading into the weekend.
McIlroy on 15…
A solid 52-degree wedge into the green from 149 yards out, and he’s landed it plum on the green. He now has four-yard putt for birdie
Poulter's approach on 17…
Rolls off the back of the green, and Poults has a bit of work to do from there. He’s currently on 10-under.
Fleetwood birdies the last!
That’s it – Tommy cards a second-round 67 after a superb putt on the last to secure his fifth birdie of the day. He remains at the top of the leaderboard on 12-under.
Another brilliant round from the 28-year-old who countered every slight mistake of his with something worthwhile. He followed his bogey on nine with a birdie on the next hole, and his birdie on 18 will give him a lot of confidence heading into the weekend.
Rose and Thomas both find the green on 17
Two decent shots from two of the game’s best players. Thomas lands it 20 feet out from the hole, while Rose has a birdie putt from 10 feet.
Rose is on the 16th
However, he can’t push his score to one better. He did, however, manufacture a birdie opportunity from eight feet out, but he couldn’t direct the putt in the right direction with enough pace. Onto the dreaded 17th Rose goes where all his hard work could be undone with one, simple swing of a golf club.
Justin Rose is the current world No. 2
Mitchell's going well – again
He’s just parred the 17th to remain on seven-under for his round today. He’s currently T-7 on a score of eight-under for the tournament, and playing exceptionally well with the putter. Big weekend ahead for the American who finished T-6 at the Arnold Palmer last week after winning the Honda Classic the week before that.
Rose is six-under for the day, four-under for the tournament…
Only perfect from @JustinRose99. 🦅
Another EAGLE @THEPLAYERSChamp! #LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/5RjvR6ezBS
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Not a great effort…
Fleetwood’s putt for birdie didn’t look like going in from the moment it left his putter. It’s still close enough to tap in for par, but it will no doubt feel like an opportunity lost for the Englishman.
Fleetwood with a chance for birdie…
He’s done excellently to get that out of the bunker-side rough to within 10 feet of the hole. He has a reasonable chance to get back the shot he’s just lost.
Sublime golf weather…
It’s now 5.48pm in Florida, and the sun is beginning to set on Sawgrass.
Here’s a snap of Poulter on the sixth tee.
Ian Poulter is currently on 10-under for the tournament
Scrappy from Fleetwood…
His second shot on the par-five 16th ends in the rough next to a green-side bunker. Not a great shot. Fortunately for the Englishman his ball remains on the up-slope, but it’s still going to be a difficult task to get that done in two for a birdie.
McIlroy birdies the 12th!
Rory tidies up a mediocre chip shot from 35 yards out by sinking a 20-footer on the green. He’ll be happy with that, and he’s now just two shots behind Fleetwood.
Bogey for Fleetwood…
His par-putt skims round the cup on the 14th and stays out, meaning Fleetwood requires another shot. He drops back to 11-under and within one of Poulter who is seven-under for his round today.
Astonishing from Poulter…
He’s now T-2 for the tournament having just birdied the par-four fifth (his 14th hole of the day). That his fifth birdie in his last six holes.
From the highs, to the lows…
Sungjae Im may have just hit a hole-in-one on the 13th hole to put him on the two-under cut mark, but he’s just hit his first shot on the par-three 17th into the water. Only the second player to do that today and it now looks like he now won’t make the cut. Devastating for the Web.com player of the year for 2018. It’s going to be his third missed cut in his last five starts, unable to build on his T-3 finish from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rory can't move to nine-under…
McIlroy leaves his putt about 1mm short from securing a birdie on the par-five 11th. So, so close.
There'll be more of this is Rory keeps it up…
Sound up. 🔊⬆😂
A young fan was REALLY excited for @McIlroyRory's birdie putt.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/VQtV79sg3l
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Bradley and Wallace grateful to their opening-round scores…
Only two players are projected to make the cut who have shot over-par today. That’s Matt Wallace and Keegan Bradley. Everyone else who is two-under or better have shot under-par.
Poulter birdies again…
He’s now down to nine-under. Poulter’s enjoyed a phenomenal day on the greens today, and they appear to be firming up at the moment. When he’s on form, he’s one of the best putters in the world. His round spoiled only by the double-bogey on the par-three 13th.
Rory moves to eight-under with another birdie…
McIlroy has definitely settled into his round now, carding his third birdie in a row. He’s got two more par-fives to play and a chance to zone in even further on Fleetwood’s current 12-under score.
Fleetwood to 12-under!
The 28-year-old instantly makes amends to his poor chip shop on the par-four 12th by pulling out a fantastic birdie putt. He’s hit that from off the green, but he’s still managed to navigate it towards the hole. Down to 12-under.
Fleetwood is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour
Eddie Pepperell playing with fire…
His tee shot on the 17th is less than a club’s length from dropping into the water – phew. He’s on three-under for the tournament.
No eagle for McIlroy
The Northern Irishman can’t seize the opportunity for eagle from 17 foot out on the green, but it’s good effort and he’ll have a tap-in for birdie to move to seven-under.
Poulter moves to eight-under-par…
His putter is working to full efficiency, and he’s just nailed in another birdie. He’s now just three shots behind Fleetwood.
McIlroy has an eagle opportunity…
The Northern Irishman has a chance for eagle here, with an excellent second shot on the par-five 9th ending just 17 feet from the hole.
Unspectacular but competitive DeChambeau…
‘The Scientist’ is currently two-under and battling to stay in the tournament as he hovers around the cut mark. He’s even-par thru nine, and we are still yet to see his best golf this week. He’s averaging 300.8 yards off the tee today, while he’s also hit six of nine greens in regulation.
DeChambeau is current world No. 5
Fleetwood has an outside chance for birdie
He’s onto the green at the par-five 11th in three, and he’ll have a long-range putt – around 30 or so feet – for birdie.
This time it’s from Sungjae Im on the 13th hole – and he needed that!
The Web.com player of the year for 2018 enjoys a spectacular moment as his seven-iron shot lands five foot beyond the hole before spinning back into the cup. Brilliant effort from the South Korean, who now moves to two-under and within the cut mark.
Poulter on the move…
The Englishman shifts to seven-under after his latest birdie. He’s four-under for his round today thru 10 and isn’t giving up on catching Fleetwood just yet.
Some big names on the plane home…
It’s looking increasingly likely that the cut is going to be two-under-par, which means we’re going to be saying goodbye to the likes of Brooks Koepka, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson. However, a few of these names are still out on the course so it’s still within their hands.
McIlroy also birdies
He moves to six-under after only needing two shots on eighth.
But not for long, Fleetwood birdies the 10th!
The Englishman plays the hole beautifully. A perfect drive, the ideal approach shot to within six feet of the hole and then Fleetwood secures the birdie with a well-judged putt. Back to 11-under for the tournament and he holds the outright lead again.
Fleetwood is joined by Harman on 10-under
Brian Harman is four-under thru eight and shifts his score for the tournament down to 10-under after his latest two back-to-back birdies.
The American has missed the cut in the last two tournaments he’s played in, so his name at the top of the leaderboard is a bit of shock. In fact, he’s missed the cut in five of his last seven starts!
94 players have played the 17th today, and only two balls have found the water…
And both were from Tiger Woods. Incredible.
Woods quadruple-bogeyed the 17th today
Fleetwood's endures his first bogey of the day…
His short-game has cost him here on the 9th. A poor chip shot and a couple of mediocre putts have inflicted a +1 on his scorecard. Very uncharacteristic from the tournament’s leader who looked like he could do nothing wrong up until this point. However, he still holds a one-shot lead over Jim Furyk.
Fleetwood battling for par on the 9th…
The 28-year-old sent his second shot into the greenside bunker, and he hasn’t escaped the sand too well either. He had a very awkward stance in the bunker as he looked to chip back onto the green, but he’s sent it miles past the hole. Two putts to save par from there.
Leishman birdies the 17th…
Nice work from the Australian who moves to two-under for the tournament.
Beauty of a drive from Fleetwood…
Right down the middle of the fairway, and he now has 263 yards from there to the hole on the par-five 9th. Chance for a birdie, perhaps.
Poulter hits back!
The Englishman chips his ball straight into the hole from 30 yards out on the par-five 16th (his 7th hole of the day) to grab his first eagle of the week. He moves back down to five-under and is now T-15 on the leaderboard.
Perfectly paced pitch, Poulter.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/fK5s4pZGqH
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Mickelson having a nightmare round…
The five-time Major champion is three-over for his round today thru five, and he’s just sliced his tee shot on the 6th deep into the trees on the right. Awful shot, to be honest, and he probably regrets hitting a driver off that tee. He faces a difficult task to make par from there.
Rahm goes close on the fourth…
The Spaniard is one-under for his round so far and four-under for the tournament. A solid performance.
He’s enjoying some brilliant form of late, having not missed a cut since the Northern Trust in August. In his last eight starts, he’s only not finished inside the top 10 on one occasion, and that was last week.
Jon Rahm is four-under for the Players
McIlroy can't birdie the 5th…
The Northern Irishman shouldn’t be disappointed with that long-range birdie putt on the 5th which falls just short, but he needs to start making up some ground on Fleetwood somewhere. He’s six shots behind at the moment.
Willett on four-over…
He’s likely to miss the cut, but he’ll be happy with his tee shot on the 17th just then. A brilliant hit with his wedge and his ball ends up just two feet from the hole. He’ll no doubt take that birdie opportunity and squeeze back down to three-over.
Meanwhile, Fleetwood remains on 11-under after par on the 7th.
Birdie watch for Fleetwood…
He has a 33-foot putt for birdie on the par-four 7th. A big ask, but for the form he’s enjoying it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the ball drop in.
Fleetwood continuing his dominance…
A powerful approach shot into the green ended up in the rough at the back, but Fleetwood saves par with an outstanding little chip shot.
His third shot carried the perfect amount of force from 30 yards out, with the 28-year-old applying a smidgen of backspin to keep his ball within touching distance of the hole when it landed, which enabled the easy tap-in fourth.
Johnson playing well, but not well enough
He’s one-under thru four today, and four-under for the tournament. A decent, steady start but it’s just not enough to keep up the pace with Fleetwood. He’s also hit a monster 340-yard drive today already after just four holes.
Dustin Johnson is the current world No. 1
Mickelson double bogeys…
Some uncharacteristic bad putting from Mickelson, who leaves the par-three 5th with double bogey simply down to poor putting from close range. Rushed it, and he’s now on three-over.
Poulter's finds the water…
A 15-yard miss to the left led his ball to the water. He escapes the par-three 5th with a double-bogey and moves back down to three-under for the tournament.
Fleetwood nearly nails another birdie…
His putt from 25 feet just drifts past the hole, but it’s a good effort. An easy tap-in par and onto the next hole he goes.
McIlroy makes amends…
Beautiful little chip into the second green, and it spins to within a foot of the hole. A tap-in birdie for the 29-year-old now to cancel out his earlier bogey. Back to five-under he goes.
Jason Day finishes for day two on eight-under…
"It definitely is playing a little bit easier," he said regarding the course’s adjustments this year. "I think they’ve done a good job with it."
McIlroy bogeys the first…
The Northern Irishman hasn’t had the fast start he was after. He’s dropped a shot on the first already, mainly down to shooting his approach shot way beyond the back of the green. He’s now on four-under for the tournament.
One of the shortest hitters on the tour…
But that didn’t both Jim Furyk. Eight birdies and 10 pars for the 2018 US Ryder Cup captain. A superb day.
One off the course record for @JimFuryk!
He posts the round of the day @THEPLAYERSChamp.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/ge0PAFMnet
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Woods improved on day two…
The 14-time Major winner hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation on day one, but he made 16 of 18 today. His average driving distance was almost 10 yards more throughout his second round, too.
Woods carded a two-under 70 on day two
Moore's back on the 17th…
However, he can’t muster another hole-in-one and he’s placed it around 20 feet from the hole. It’s not found the water, so it’s a decent shot, but he would have liked to see that drop in for one again.
Kisner's happy after finishing on eight-under…
"It was another solid day," he said. "I think if you keep the ball in the fairway you’ve got a good a chance and that’s my strategy.
"I have been pretty much average all year and started to see some signs over the last few weeks of better play."
Fleetwood moves to 11-under…
He’s loving this course so far, and he’s now four-under thru 3 today after an excellent 25-foot putt drops into the cup on the par-three 3rd.
Another couple of birdies…
Ian Poulter and Justin Thomas have also managed to open their rounds in positive style, with the pair of them grabbing an opening birdie. They’ll both need more of those if they are to contend this week, with the Englishman now six shots behind Fleetwood while Thomas is eight behind.
McIlroy tees off…
Loud roar on the tee for McIlroy, and he smashes his opening drive into the rough. It doesn’t look like he’s got a bad lie, but he’d have liked a better opening shot than that.
Another Fleetwood masterclass!
The Englishman chips out of the green-side bunker on the par-five 2nd to eagle the hole and move to 10-under. He didn’t have the best lie, but that didn’t bother the 28-year-old. He delicately chips out of the sand onto the edge of the green and it rolls down into the cup. He’s now three-under thru 2 and a shot clear of Jim Furyk.
More of that please, Tommy!
Fleetwood has picked up where he left off yesterday, notching his first birdie of the day on the par-four 1st. He’s also just sent his tee shot on the 2nd straight down the middle of the fairway. Early signs suggest it’s going to be a good round for the 28-year-old.
Furyk’s putt for birdie on the 17th hits the flagstick and hangs on the very edge of the cup – agonisingly close!
He hit it with a lot of speed, and it’s hard to tell whether the flagstick being there was a good thing or a bad thing. It stopped the ball dead in it’s tracks, but a part of me thinks it would have dropped straight in had the stick not been there. I guess we’ll never know…
Lucky or unlucky? 🤔😅 pic.twitter.com/uKChSlP4Kj
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
He's on the green…
Furyk can rest easy, as his tee shot on the 17th finds the green rather than the water. He’s got a 14-yard putt for birdie again now, and if he can sink that, he’ll be clear by two at the top.
Jim Furyk takes the lead – again!
It’s tight at the top, and Furyk has taken the outright lead again. The American makes the most of the par-five 16th and secures his eighth birdie of the day. He’s now got the challenging 17th coming up next, and as we saw with Tiger, all could come crashing down in an instant.
Cards a one-over 73 to remain on six-under for the tournament. Much worse day than yesterday, but he’s stuck in there.
Couple of new additions to the leaderboard's summit…
South Korean duo Byeong Hun An and Sung Kang are now on eight-under for the tournament, with Kang currently nine-under for his round today thru 14. His last four holes? Eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie. Wow. He started the day on one-over.
Woods has finished…
Completely misread the putt on the 18th, and it filters off to the right of the hole. Taps in for par, and he cards a two-under 70 for the day. He’ll be extremely disappointed after his quadruple-bogey on the 17th, but that said, he’s still within touching distance of the top.
Fleetwood is off the mark…
The 28-year-old has teed off, slotting his opening driving just into the first cut of the rough, near the bunker on the left. He’ll have an awkward stance for the second shot, with his ball teetering on the edge of a small slope.
Furyk leads alongside Kisner…
He’s averaging just 260 yards off the tee today, but he’s found all 13 fairways with his driver.
Jim Furyk captain the US Ryder Cup team in 2018
Kisner on the 17th…
Pushes his 20-foot putt for birdie about five feet past the hole. He has a little nerve-tester here to par and remain on eight-under.
Some notable tees times still to come…
17.27 GMT: Justin Rose
17.38 GMT: Ian Poulter
17.48 GMT: Dustin Johnson
17.59 GMT: Rory McIlroy & Phil Mickelson
Kisner breathes a sigh of relief…
He’s on the 17th, and he’s found the green with his tee shot. Phew.
He’ll now have a putt from 17 feet out for birdie.
Reed moves to five-under…
The Masters champion sinks another birdie with a well-executed putt from off the green from 12 feet out. He moves to five-under and is now one step closer to the top of the leaderboard.
Fleetwood is set to tee off in just a few moments…
How do you warm up?
Let's look at @TommyFleetwood1's routine.
He led after Round 1 @THEPLAYERSChamp. pic.twitter.com/7aZZYhLwx6
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
48 players have been through the 17th today, and only two balls have found the water. And both have been from Tiger Woods. A 14-time Major champion. Astonishing.
In terms of the hole itself today, it’s playing at 146 yards with wind coming slightly out of the left.
Yesterday's stars can't continue their momentum todays…
Bradley and Moore enjoyed brilliant opening rounds yesterday, with the latter even grabbing a hole-in-one on the 17th. However, they’ve both slipped today with Bradley one-over for his round and Moore currently on three-over thru 13.
Kisner takes the outright lead again…
Busy five minutes at the Players, with Kisner taking the lead again on nine-under after his latest birdie with a neat 10-footer on the 15th.
Knox, meanwhile, bogeys to shift back to seven-under. Furyk remains on eight-under.
Also, England’s Matt Wallace has just teed off.
Woods raises Simpson…
Reining champion Simpson plays a brilliant 160-yard approach shot to the green on the 7th, with his ball ending perhaps five inches from the hole.
Woods steps up next, plays his 137-yard approach to around three inches for the hole. Tap-in birdies for both. Superb golf.
Knox moves to eight-under…
The Scotsman has birdied the par-five 16th to tie the lead alongside Kisner and Furyk. He’s yet to bogey any hole today, managing to hit 12 of 16 greens in regulation. He’s got a the par-three 17th and par-four 18th left to play.
Furyk ties the lead…
The 2018 US Ryder Cup captain is enjoying a phenomenal round today, where he has just birdied three holes back-to-back to moves to eight-under for the tournament. Seven birdies today thru 13. He’s now at the top alongside Kisner.
Russell Knox is having another fantastic day at Sawgrass. He’s seven-under for the tournament after a bogey-free round so far. He’s only got three holes left to play.
Matthew Fitzpatrick is also enjoying a solid round, where he now four-under for the tournament. He’s currently two-under thru 11 so far today.
Fleetwood, McIlroy, Rose and Poulter are all yet to tee off.
A short-hitter will win this tournament…
If you’re judging this golf tournament by driving statistics, a short-but-accurate driver of the ball will win this tournament.
Fowler averaged 294 yards off the tee during his opening round, and he bogeyed five of the 18 holes. Today, he’s yet to bogey and he’s five under, but he’s averaging just 281.8 yards. He’s taken some distance off his driving just to keep the ball in play, and it’s making a huge difference.
Comparing this to some of the other short-hitters, Kisner is averaging just 277.4 yards from the tee. Fleetwood averaged 280.1 yards yesterday as well.
Kisner moves to nine-under…
He takes a two-shot lead after his latest birdie on the par-four 12th . He’s now five-under just for today.
However, he’s got a 10-foot putt for par on the 14th. A nerve-tester.
Fowler's playing his best golf…
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the 14th tee
One of the players of the day so far, with Fowler five-under for his round thru 11. He’s just eagled the par-five 2nd, and he’s shifted down to three-under for the tournament.
Woods pars the par-four 5th…
The 14-time Major winner remains at two-under with just four holes left to play.
He was really lucky to have any sort of shot at all, but he’s hit it just over green from the pine straw. He’s still fighting here though, and he’d take a bogey at this point. He’s made a mess of this hole. Bunker, pine straw, misses the green.
The 14-time Major champion just finds the front of the green in his approach shot from 183 yards out.
Simpson, meanwhile, looks like he’s hit it out of bounds. Either that, or he’s got a third shot deep in the woods from pine straw.
And Reed has hit the shot both Woods and Simpson wanted to. Superb judgement of the wind from the first cut of rough to land it about five feet from the hole.
Woods sends his drive into the rough…
Tiger’s on the par-four 5th – a 466 yard hole – and his ball has just bounced into the rough on the left of the fairway. However, it’s not a bad lie and he won’t be overly disappointed when he gets to it in a moment.
Three of the best pictures from today…
Huge crowd behind Rickie Fowler on the 18th. Everyone wants to get a look of the five-time PGA Tour winner.
Ricke Fowler tees off
The look on Woods’ face says it all after his quadruple-bogeys the infamous 17th at Sawgrass.
Tiger Woods isn't best pleased after hitting a quadruple-bogey
Patrick Reed’s caddie Kessler Karain making sure his partner’s read of the green is on point.
Patrick Reed's caddie getting a good read of the green
Chance for Reed…
A good birdie look for Reed coming for up at the 4th after a nice tee shot trickles past the hole. If he can make that, he’ll move to four-under.
Tiger Woods is still the main attraction at Sawgrass…
Tiger Woods is even-par for his round
Kisner still leads…
The current world No. 48 has been a consistent performer over recent weeks, but has hardly set the world alight. He finished T-23 last week, T-27 the week before and T-28 the week before that. The last time he broke into the top-10 was at the RSM Classic back in 2018, where an impressive T-7 finish ended his year on a high.
That said, the 35-year-old’s been brilliant so far this week. He leads on eight-under with six holes left to play, having only bogeyed two holes in two rounds.
The American hasn’t won since 2017, and he’ll be seeing this as the perfect opportunity as he looks to close out his second round of re-entering the winners circle.
Kevin Kisner is current leader on day two
He manages another birdie and shifts back to even-par for the day, and two-under for the championship.
He’s got seven holes left to play.
Notable tee times…
Tommy Fleetwood tees off at 5.15pm alongside Keith Mitchell and Austin Cook.
Justin Rose goes at 5.27pm alongside Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas.
Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy begin at 5.59pm.
Plenty of golf left to play…
Squanders a putt for birdie on the par-four 1st, and he’ll tap in for par to remain on two-over for the tournament. Needs a strong end to his round to make the cut this week.
Kaymer on the rise…
Another competitor playing nicely today is Martin Kaymer. He’s hit nine out of nine greens in regulation for his round today.
The German’s on four-under for the tournament, and hasn’t made a bogey since the 6th hole during his opening round.
He could really do with a strong finish – or even victory – here at Sawgrass as well this week to really boost his confidence heading into the Masters and beyond. He’s currently 172nd in the rankings, a long way off 2011 when he held the number one spot following his WGC Match Play victory.
He’s currently lining up a putt on the 1st green.
Simpson remains on four-under…
The reigning Players champion can’t take an opportunity for birdie on the 1st (his 10th hole) and he remains on four-under. He’s plodding along nicely here at Sawgrass. The only hiccup of his performance so far was losing two shots on the 14th yesterday. Today, he’s notched two birdies on his front nine and eight pars. He’s averaging 1.4 yards further off the tee today, too.
One hole can change it all…
A much-improved performance off the tee for Tiger today, but the 17th at Sawgrass can destroy you. It did so with Paul Casey yesterday, and it has done today with the 14-time Major winner. While he’s not out of it at one-under, that is a devastating quadruple-bogey. If he wins this tournament from here, it would be a remarkable acheivement.
What a cruel game.
Fairways hit on front nine: 7/7
Score on the front nine: +1 pic.twitter.com/AdTl9rok0u
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
It's just the nature of this golf course…
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
A five-way at the top
We now have five players on -7 at the top of the leaderboard with Russell Knox (who is -5 for his round) joining Luke List, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Kisner and Tommy Fleetwood.
Woods drops back
Tiger Woods has quadruple-bogeyd the par-three 17th. He took a seven on a par three and moves back to -1 from -5.
Woods in the water AGAIN
Ahhhhh no… Tiger Woods has found the water again at the par-three 17th. And eventually ends up on the green in five. This is turning into a horror hole for Tiger.
At the top of the leaderboard, Luke List has joined Keegan Bradley and Tommy Fleetwood on -7. He’s now -4 for his round.
Woods in the water
Tiger Woods, at the par-three 17th, finds the back end of the green and, as it catches the gentle slope to the water, plops in.
Webb Simpson finds the centre of the green, but it’s a fair distance from the flag.
Patrick Reed, on the other hand, nails it, finishing around 12 feet from the hole and has a fine birdie chance.
Scott falls short
Adam Scott, on the 16th and in the pines, needs to hook his second shot around the trees and hope it chases up to the green. Ripples of applause, but his shot finishes well short of the green.
Woods finds his birdie groove
Webb Simpson comes up agonisingly short of a birdie at 16. But has a simple tap-in for par.
Patrick Reed, with an eight foot, downhill putt, wiggles it off to the left, but he too has a simple par tap-in.
Tiger Woods, from four feet, claims the birdie and is now -5!
Woods flirts with the water
The group of Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed is on the 16th and Reed has the opportunity for an up and down for a birdie. Simpson lands short and Woods is relieved that his ball finds dry land after flirting with the water. Cries of "mud ball" could be heard as it sailed off course, but he’s got away with it.
List on the up
Luke List is making a charge up the leaderboard. He’s now joint third on -6, and -3 for the day.
Bradley loses his early advantage
Keegan Bradley, having picked up two early birdies to move to -9, has now posted two bogeys and is -7, back to level with Tommy Fleetwood, who has yet to start his round.
Woods making his move
Tiger Woods for birdie at 13…. he’s putting just off the green in the heavier grass… and he sinks it from six feet to move to -4!
Birdies galore at the 12th
Webb Simpson moves to -4 with a birdie at the 12th. And Tiger Woods bags a birdie, too, at the same hole to move to -3. Patrick Reed completes the cycle of birdies for this group after chipping out of the greenside bunker to within a couple of feet.
Stenson plays a beauty
Henrik Stenson’s third shot at the par-five 11th is sublime. A chunk-and-run from the back of the green, it speeds towards the hole before backspin kicks in and the ball finishes a foot from the cup. Brilliant! A birdie opportunity for the Swede, who is currently struggling on +4.
Bradley drops back
Keegan Bradley is now only a shot in front after picking up a bogey. He remains the leader, though, on -8, one shot ahead of Tommy Fleetwood who has yet to tee off his second round.
Woods misses birdie opportunity
Patrick Reed has a 37 foot putt to save par at the 11th… and it’s brilliant, the ball rolling to within a couple of feet for a bogey.
Webb Simpson saves par. Nerves of steel there. And Tiger Woods misses his birdie chance to groans from the gallery. Tiger has to settle for a par five.
Reed and Simpson struggling at the 11th
Webb Simpson with his fourth shot at the par-five 11th, having earlier found the water, He chips to the green… and it’s a decent result but the pressure will be on to save par from around 10 feet.
Woods, with his third shot, chips to within eight feet and has a fine chance for a birdie.
Patrick Reed, meanwhile, currently -4, looks in all sorts of bother with his fourth shot, his ball stuck in the greenside bunker in front of a steep embankment…. he chips out and it races away almost to the back of the green.
Woods fine, Webb wet
Tiger Woods, currently -2 at the par-five 11th. His second shot looks good and lands in the chipping area just to the left of the green. Webb Simpson, with his second at the 11th, finds the water – the same fate Woods suffered yesterday.
Bradley extends lead
Keegan Bradley is making an early charge and has now increased his advantage at the top to two shots, with two early birdies. He’s now -9 after three.
Bradley takes the lead
We pick up with Keegan Bradley now the outright leader on -8 thanks to a birdie and he is -1 through 2.
The Players Championship, day two preview
Hello and welcome to day two from Sawgrass… and we have a Brit at the top of the leaderboard.
Rory McIlroy believes it is just a "matter of time" before Tommy Fleetwood wins his maiden PGA Tour title after his Ryder Cup team-mate claimed a share of the lead on day one of The Players Championship.
And on yesterday’s showing, it’s hard to argue.
Fleetwood birdied six of his last nine holes in an inward half of 30, just one shot outside the tournament record, to set an imposing clubhouse target of seven under par which was matched only by former US PGA champion Keegan Bradley.
Korea’s Ben An and American Brian Harman are a shot off the lead on six under, with McIlroy, Vaughn Taylor and Ryan Moore a stroke further back, Moore’s 67 including a spectacular hole-in-one on the iconic par-three 17th.
Keith Mitchell of the United States (right) talks with Tommy Fleetwood (left) on the ninth hole during Thursday's first round
McIlroy’s good early-season form continued with a bogey-free round while Tiger Woods is two under par following an erratic 70 which included six birdies, four bogeys and just one par on the back nine.
Fleetwood started from the 10th and managed just one birdie in his first nine holes, but then picked up shots on the first, second and fifth and finished with a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh.
Fleetwood finished seventh at Sawgrass last year and third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, when Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari stormed through the field with a closing 64 to win his second PGA Tour title.
"I’m trying to keep up," Fleetwood joked. "It’s hard these days but I’m trying my best. It’s clearly the next step for me to win over here but winning’s not easy and I’ve got to keep plodding away, do the right things and focus on myself."