Hot finish for McIlroy ties him for lead with Fleetwood at Players

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The Spaniard used his prodigious power to plunder an eagle and seven birdies at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, matching the best score of the week on a day when the predicted northerly wind did not materialize. His only bogey was on the sixth hole, and even that landed next to the pin until running over the back. "Really, really confident with my irons".

Can you imagine McIlroy winning The Masters, then the Open Championship, which is being played in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951?

McIlroy hasn't won since Bay Hill a year ago, though he has had his chances for more. He still was under par at the turn by running off three birdies, including a four-iron to a foot on the hardest par three on the course at No 8.

Holding a one-shot lead, no one would have criticized McIlroy if he made a decision to hit a 3-wood off the tee.

McIlroy's birdies on Nos. Even on the par-5 16th, he tried a low runner out of the pine trees and it came out so hot that it ran through the green and into the water.

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Coming off a careless bogey on the 14th, McIlroy thought he was in trouble when his tee shot went well to the right toward a clump of native grass. And he can at least avoid questions about winning from the final group, something McIlroy hasn't done in his last nine occasions dating to the start of 2018. "That's all you need to do, make a good swing here, two good swings at the last, and this thing is yours, and to step up and make those three good swings, it's very satisfying knowing that it's in there when it needs to be".

"I feel like I've managed the first six tournaments of the year very well, even with some noise around me, whether 'he can't close, he can't play on Sundays, ' blah, blah, blah", McIlroy said.

Fleetwood opened with a three-putt bogey and made all pars until hitting into the water on the 11th for bogey. He holed a 30-foot birdie putt on No 8 after McIlroy tapped in for his birdie, and then picked up four birdies where they were available for his 70. "So I'm just satisfied that I've added another great tournament to my CV, and it puts me in a great spot going forward". "I'm glad I showed the strength mentally more than anything". Teryn Schaefer presents the best social media posts from around the world of golf in "Good, Bad & Unusual" and after each day's play brings you the biggest talking points in "The Takeaway".

Las Vegas installed McIlroy as the latest favorite to win the Masters ahead of Dustin Johnson, who only three weeks ago won by five shots against a World Golf Championships field in Mexico City. Both hit two shots too many. He was 12 shots behind in his last stroke-play event before the Masters.

On Saturday, Furyk didn't have as much success, shooting another 71, but he played well enough to stay within striking distance for Sunday.

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Jon Rahm tosses a ball to fans after finishing a splendid third round at TPC Sawgrass. This moved Rahm to 1 over for the round.

At the 181-yard par-3 13th, Rahm hit a tee shot 190 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 12-foot putt for birdie.

By the end of the day, his 64 was about as high as it could have been. McIlroy called the shot easily his best of the day.

His record at the age of just 29 not only has him heading for one of the great careers in the history of the game but he is quickly becoming one of the game's great personalities to match his increasingly impressive playing record.

McIlroy struggled to get any momentum, early doors, but carded five birdies down the stretch to stave off a host of golfers that were all pinging it on the final day. Rahm is fiery, and his emotions at times can get in his way.

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