2019 Players' Championship Results, takeaway: McIlroy stands out with Mickelson, Spieth misses the cup

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After two consecutive months of world class golf, it seems that in the two rounds of the 2019 Players Championship, Rory McIlroy has done what I thought, it might not be possible to do it. It's somehow improved … a little better?

McIlroy shot a player under 65 on Friday to catch up with Tommy Fleetwood at 12 of the week's end, three fewer than a group of four including Abraham Ancer, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk and Brian Harman . McIlroy has bent and twisted his pilot and his irons on a course where he has not historically been successful, and this has been all he was found during the first two days at TPC Sawgrass.

A sample of statistics across two rounds.

  • McIlroy hit 30/36 greens in regulation.
  • McIlroy hit 21 of the 28 fairways.
  • McIlroy made a bogey on 36 holes.
  • McIlroy won tee shots at the green on 29/36 holes.
  • McIlroy did only six putts over 7 feet.
  • McIlroy gained more than four shots on the tee field at the green on each lap.

It's the latter that is truly amazing, even for someone who leads the PGA tour in this category. He may have missed a shot or two here or there, but even those that he thought he missed – as a tee shot at the normal 3 – eighth Friday – turn into birdies. McIlroy doubled the 16th best player in the pack (Adam Scott) in shots from the tee to the green. McIlroy won 9.5 (!), And Scott won 4.7.

It was a show, and maybe even more than that, it seemed durable. Of course, the weekend might not go as fast as the first 36 holes (and Rory could go swimming at one point), but he's not above his head here. It does not lead the planet by placing or looking for eagles. It just does what it does at a level slightly higher than what it normally does. He raises his game when it counts the most.

His last kick was the proof. As the sun set on Jacksonville, as spectators prepared for dinner and players mentally watched each other as their role disappeared, McIlroy scored 3-2-4 on the last three holes of his second ride to catch Fleetwood. It was a moment of warmth after two long days that may have given a window on what will happen this weekend.

After losing 288 yards on the 16th of normal 5, McIlroy scored a 224-yard iron at 9 feet. The eagle had it in a timely manner. He shot his tee shot on the 17th a bit, but he kept a 21-foot stick to tie it with Tommy Locks. After sweeping the fairway across the fairway into the pine straw on the number 18, McIlroy struck a corner that was writhing at 17 feet on the number 18. This was not a birdie, but a day when the Average score of the number 18 was 4.2, that was a lot. And it was enough to see no one in front of him on the board when he woke up Saturday morning.

All year long, you can say that McIlroy has been the best player in the world. He does not have the victories to prove it, but his material is, for a long time, probably the best. And whether he wins this weekend or not (see below for more information on this), it will probably still be the case. But for at least one night this week without anyone being in front of him or in front of him and his battlefield watching his absurd play of tee to green, McIlroy has at least a few fingers around a trophy, which would constitute tangible proof of his talent. until 2019.

Here are some additional thoughts on Round 2 of TPC Sawgrass.

1. Can Rory close? His the question of the weekend, no? It would be a little frowning if anyone else like Fleetwood or McIlroy won this tournament because of his caliber and his lead. The story says that's how McIlroy wins, and his form has been as good as anyone in the world. But his record here was not the best and he has not closed on Sunday yet.

2. Another ace: For the second day in a row, we had an ace at TPC Sawgrass. Thursday, it was Ryan Moore on the 17th. Friday, it was Sungjae I'm the 13th. Unfortunately for Im, it was not enough for him to get to the weekend.

3. Balls in the water on 17: No. 17 hit only six balls in the water on Friday, but Tiger Woods had two. The average score on this hole dropped below 3.0 (which is unusual), and there were only 10 bogeys or doubles and no triples. There was a quad, however and it was Tiger.

4. The ejection of Phil: Mickelson ejected hard enough on the first nine places, but the part that caught my attention was the third green. After taking four 25-foot putts on Thursday, he took three more from 6-foot on Friday. That's … seven putts over 31 feet in two days, which is amazing. He joins the following players who have all missed the cup.

  • Xander Schauffele (E)
  • Patrick Cantlay (+1)
  • Jordan Spieth (+1)
  • Henrik Stenson (+1)
  • Phil Mickelson (+4)
  • Zach Johnson (+6)
  • Paul Casey (+8)

5. Ian Poulter? Ian Poulter !: One of the few calls I was right this week is to predict that Poulter – who finished in the top six out of four of his last five starts in the world – would have a good week. He jumped to the back of two chip-ins, and at one point he played an eight-hole 3-3-3-3-4-3-3-3 (which is almost impossible to make)! I do not know if I'm here for a Poulter victory, but I'm definitely here for him, who contributes for the weekend to this dramatic journey.

6. Fowler throws to the ground: Rickie Fowler shot a 67 Friday that included this 80-yard hole for an eagle. Fowler gained more than three shots on the field with shots (1.5 on that shot), and after a bad 74 in the first round while he was in bad weather, he ( somehow) is making its way into the tournament.

7. Perfect for Tommy? One thing I thought while people were talking about the preparation of the course and the time that was going wrong was that it could become perfect for Fleetwood. Think about where he found most of his success in the United States. Fleetwood crashed in the United States Open, where conditions are harsh, tough and fast. He will still have to face a nervous weekend, but I bet he wants it to firm up and scream as much as possible in the third and fourth rounds.

8. All different types: The top 10 in this ranking is almost ridiculous. To contrast McIlroy and D.J. with Jim Furyk and Kevin Kisner with Keith Mitchell and Jason Day with Brian Harman and Ian Poulter. Long hitters, short hitters, big putters, bad putters, elite forwards, not the elite forwards. This map is omnipresent on the map, which is both fun and the sign that the course is probably quite well configured.

9. Ryder Cup: This is a scene with which Captain Jim Furyk is probably familiar. He could not beat Europe as the captain of the top 12 Americans, so he will now try to face them alone. We will see Sunday if the result is the same as in Paris.