Saturday, with its cooler temperatures and different wind direction was supposed to be a tougher scoring day at The Players. It wasn’t. There were plenty of low scores and the lowest of the day belonged to Jon Rahm, who took over as the 54-hole leader. Here’s how things are looking going into Sunday’s finale at TPC Sawgrass.
15-under: Jon Rahm (69-68-64): It was a quiet front nine for Rahm. He turned two-under but an eagle at the 11th got him rolling. He’d finish off the final nine with an easy birdie at 16 then he hit it inside two-feet at the dangerous 17th. A par at 18 gave him 30 coming home and he tied Jim Furyk for the tournament’s low round. He has the lead all by himself. “It would be huge,” Rahm said of a possible Sunday win. “This is a personal growth year for me. I’m not letting any frustrations get to me, I’m controlling my emotions, which I haven’t done in the past.”
14-under: Tommy Fleetwood (65-67-70) and Rory McIlroy (67-65-70): Fleetwood and McIlroy shared the overnight lead at 12-under par and both got off to miserable starts. McIlroy started his day bogey-bogey while Fleetwood made double-bogey right out of the box on the first hole. Each dug a hole but both players showed a lot of determination and recovered from their mistakes to post two-under par rounds of 70. Fleetwood got there with birdies at 16 and 17, McIlroy couldn’t birdie either hole. “I didn’t drive it particularly well today,” admitted McIlroy, who headed for the practice range after his round. “To start two-over and finish under par is a pretty good effort,” McIlroy pointed out.
As for Fleetwood, he said it was a tough day. “My rhythm was off, it was just a grind. I need to drive it better (tomorrow),” said Fleetwood, who will be paired with Rahm in the final Sunday group.
12-under: Jason Day (70-66-68): Day worked hard all day for his score and said he’ll be watching the early action on Sunday, when the weather is supposed to deteriorate. “I’m going to watch a lot of the golf tomorrow morning, see what the scores are, how they’re progressing out there,” Day said. “And then that really indicates on how tough it is. If the guys are shooting — if they’re 2-under through nine holes then you know there’s some gettable holes out there. But it’s always difficult knowing what you have to shoot on a Sunday with regards to what weather we’re going to have tomorrow. I mean, it is going to be cold, we’re going to have some rain, the course is going to play a lot longer than what it played today. We didn’t really get rain out there today, and it will be softer if we have a good soaking rain. So once balls start to squirt off drivers, it makes it tough to hit fairways. Then this rough, even though everyone’s is saying it’s short, it starts to get penalizing just because the wet rough is very difficult to get any sort of clean contact and it just comes out dead.”
By day’s end there were a total of 11 players in double-digits under par including Jim Furyk, who hung in there on Saturday after his 64 on Friday. He’s 10-under as are Brandt Snedeker and Ollie Schniederjans, both of whom turned in early 65s.
There was a secondary cut before the final round, players finishing one-over after the third round won’t play on Sunday but earn last place money.