All you need to know for the third round of players


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth have returned home after the first two rounds of the TPC Sawgrass Player Championship. Tiger Woods might need a miracle to play his third title here.

But the PGA Tour's "fifth major" ranking still has big stars such as Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy, who share the lead with 36 holes under 12.

Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are also at hand.

Here is what happens this weekend in the players:

Two big names looking for a big win

Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Fleetwood followed his 65th opening lap with a 67, and he will attempt to become the first Englishman to win the Players. He is also looking for his first win on American soil after finishing second in the US Open last season.

"You know, it's the next obvious step in my career and I know the more I play golf, the more we talk about it," Fleetwood said. "But it's a good thing – that I'm waiting to do that next step."

McIlroy has been waiting for a long time to win his 15th victory on the circuit. He has not won since the invitation Arnold Palmer in March 2018. He finished sixth or better in each of his previous six starts this season, including second place at the WGC-Mexico championship in March.

"I just have to keep seeing red numbers," McIlroy said. "It's all I need to keep seeing, I do not need to win, I'm not putting myself under pressure, Winning is a byproduct of doing all that I do well."

Does Tiger really have a chance?

to play


Tiger Woods is pleased with his putting and says that he did not do much harm outside of the 17th in the second round of the Players Championship.

Tiger Woods, having opened with runs of 70 and 71, will start the third round at 3 under, 9 strokes behind Fleetwood.

"Anyone who passes this chance has a chance to win this golf tournament," Woods said after Friday's round.

Maybe not. For Woods to win, he will have to score the biggest 36-hole return in player history.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 36-hole comeback came in 2010, when Tim Clark beat Lee Westwood by 7 shots to start the third round. Clark shot 66-67 on the weekend to win a shot.

In 2017, Si Woo Kim overcame a deficit of 36 strokes and 36 holes to go, and Woods came back from a second round deficit of six strokes to win in 2001.

Who invited the old?

Jim Furyk was not even sure of being in this event. Now he is in the running. AP Photo / Lynne Sladky

Jim Furyk, 48, became the oldest player to beat 65-year-old TPC Sawgrass with a total of under 64 on Friday, one shot at the Players Championship's 18-hole record.

Furyk did not even know that he could qualify for the TPC championship after racking up his second top-10 this season with a tie for ninth place at the Honda Classic in early March.

"I did not realize that I had the opportunity to play in this area, so I planned my schedule with this as a week off," Furyk said. "Honestly, I did not know that I had this opportunity.A couple of players told me that I could go on the field and I was excited."

According to Furyk, being captain of the US team at the 2018 Ryder Cup came at the right time. He had battled chest and collarbone injuries, giving him time to rest and recuperate. Seeing the best players in the world in France also motivated him to play well.

"Watching the Ryder Cup and being with the best players in the world, on both sides, really, I do not know, it's been a bit of a boost," he said. "Three or four years without having really played my best golf, I wanted to see what I could do."

After finishing No. 184 in the world in 2016, Ian Poulter unexpectedly tied for second place here in 2017, which has revitalized his career.

Poulter, 43, had four top-10s and nine top-25s in the Tour events in 2018, with two other top-ten in six events this year.

"There were some weak spots," Poulter said. "I do not like to dwell on them too much, but obviously, it's not so long ago, I started what was a great year, and maybe have you sometimes need a little bit of that [struggles] to have a different perspective on golf. I think I enjoy my golf a little more now than a few years ago. "

Furyk and Poulter were not the only players over 40 to have committed an unexpected charge. Vaughn Taylor, 43, earned 67-70 in the first two rounds to take the 10th place at 7 under.

"I can not understand why, but I'm doing better these days, which is good," Taylor said. "For many years there, I struggled with my swing and I just could not reach the fairways, I did a good job in the fairways this week."

Taylor had not made a cup in the players since finishing eighth tied in 2006, missing the weekend of each of his last eight tournaments here.

"It's been a long time and my game has changed a lot and it's a roller coaster," Taylor said. "I still feel it It's been a while since I'm not part of the group so I'm just trying to go day in and day out and see how I feel."

When key players take the path

Significant departure times on Saturday

players Start time (ET hours)
Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson 8:10
Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama 8:40
Francesco Molinari, trainer Martin 9:50
Rickie Fowler, Jhonattan Vegas 10:50
Tiger Woods, Kevin Na 11h
Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar 24:30
Patrick Reed, Adam Scott 1:10 p.m.
Jon Rahm, Rory Sabbatini 1:30 p.m.
Dustin Johnson, Byeong Hun An 1:40 p.m.
Jason Day, Kevin Kisner 2:10 p.m.
Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter 2:30 pm in the afternoon.
Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood 2:40 p.m.

When the weather started to get rough …

With an earlier date on the PGA Tour schedule, TPC Sawgrass's playing conditions were more favorable – and the many lower scores – in the first two rounds.

However, the weather should change over the weekend. Forecasts predict cooler temperatures in the 1960s and a 70 percent chance of rain Sunday.

Forecasts also predict that the wind will blow from the north or northeast at a speed of 10 to 20 mph, making the course more difficult. The players could have the wind in their sails on holes 9, 17 and 18, which are already treacherous.

"Whenever we have a north wind between 15 and 20 miles to the hour and colder temperatures, your ball shot must be more accurate," he said. Kevin Kisner, who started with a back to back of 68 and is tied for seventh place at 8 under. "I think it will be the biggest key, hit the ball with great accuracy and hit your shot of the shapes you are trying to hit."

Woods said the stadium course was already playing a bit shorter than in May because the fairways were dotted with rye.

"Right now, the golf course is very short, even for this time of year," Woods said. "If we played that in May with these conditions, the golf ball would disappear forever, but with the surface overhang on the fairways, the ball does not really work.Some guys get mud on the golf ball, so that Is a bit of a challenge. "

If you were wondering where they were

Jordan Spieth (1 above) and Phil Mickelson (4 above) are not the only notable players to miss the game. Others include Rafa Cabrera Bello (9 years old), Paul Casey (8 of 8), Zach Johnson (6), Henrik Stenson (1), J. B. Holmes (1), Marc Leishman (even) and Xander Schauffele (even).

Two players who have to stay in the top 50 of the world golf rankings – or win a tournament – to win an invitation from the Masters also missed their chance: No. 45 Shane Lowry (3 of 3) and No. 49 Andrew Putnam ( 7 over).