Players Championship: Rory McIlroy & Tommy Fleetwood one behind Jon Rahm

Rory McIlroy started his third round with two bogeys but recovered to shoot a two-under round of 70
Players Championship third-round leaderboard
-15 J Rahm (Spa); -14 T Fleetwood (Eng), R McIlroy (NI); -12 J Day (Aus); -11 A Ancer (Mex); -10 J Furyk (US), D Johnson (US), K Bradley (US), O Schniederjans (US), B Snedeker (US), Brian Harman (US)
Selected others: -9 P Reed (US); -8 J Rose (Eng), E Pepperell (Eng); -7 R Fowler (US); -6 I Poulter (Eng); -5 R Knox (Sco); -4 M Wallace (Eng); -3 T Woods (US), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood trail leader Jon Rahm by one shot going into the final round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy and England’s Fleetwood both recovered from poor starts to their third rounds to shoot two-under-par 70s.

Spaniard Rahm had four birdies and an eagle on the back nine in his 64.

Jason Day (68) is 12 under, Abraham Ancer (70) 11 under and world number one Dustin Johnson (69) 10 under.

Johnson is joined on 10 under by fellow Americans Ollie Schniederjans (65), Brandt Snedeker (65), Keegan Bradley (68), Brian Harman (71) and Jim Furyk (71).

McIlroy is seeking his first tournament victory in more than a year, while Fleetwood is yet to win in the United States.

Fleetwood told Sky Sports: “I hit some dreadful shots early on and made an absolute hash of the first hole after a good tee shot. That was followed by poor shots on four and into six and seven.

“It was a real test of grit and mental strength. I got it round and did some really good stuff on the back nine. I’m really pleased with how it finished.”

McIlroy told NBC Sports: “To turn under par was a good effort after two early bogeys.

“Once I got back to level par I felt like I had settled into the ground. I didn’t drive well and I’m going to work on that now on the range.”

Rain and strong winds are forecast for Sunday’s final round in Florida.

McIlroy & Fleetwood recover from messy starts

Tommy Fleetwood finished second in last year’s US Open

World number six McIlroy and Fleetwood, ranked 13th, were joint leaders by three shots on 12 under going into the third round but quickly eroded their advantage with poor starts.

The Northern Irishman went right off the tee at the par-four first and a fluffed chip with his third from right of the green led to a bogey.

Fleetwood found the fairway off the tee but a bad second and three-putt led to a double-bogey six.

Another bogey followed for McIlroy at the par-five second as he dropped to 10 under but he quickly got back on track with a two at the par-three third. Further birdies followed at the seventh and eighth as he moved to 13 under at the turn.

Eight pars and a solitary birdie at the 11th on the back nine demonstrated the consistency that has brought McIlroy five top-six finishes in his five PGA Tour events so far this season.

Playing partner Fleetwood birdied the second after his opening six but went on to bogey the fourth and seventh to fall to nine under.

A birdie on the ninth and eight-foot putt for par on the 10th helped him regain some rhythm and he picked up more shots at the 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th, where his tee shot finished just two feet from the flag on the famous island green.

“On 10 I holed a massive par putt which was big and I got something going,” Fleetwood added.

“I’m just happy to get that round done. I’ve got a chance now and I can get up tomorrow and try to find that rhythm that I’ve had for two days.”

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