Rory McIlroy made an impressive late surge to join Tommy Fleetwood in the lead of the Players Championship on 12-under at the halfway point in at TPC Sawgrass.
The Northern Irishman, 29, made three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to card a superb seven-under-par 65.
Fleetwood, 28, had earlier hit a 67, making five birdies and two bogeys and also holing a bunker shot for eagle on the second. ‘I need to just keep doing the same things,’ McIlroy said. ’It didn’t happen for me last week but I did so many good things and it’s been nice to be playing with confidence.’
McIlroy and Fleetwood lead a group of four players, including Englishman Ian Poulter, by three shots in Florida.
Rory Sabbatini, the former South African now competing for Slovakia is in a tie for 10th after adding a 69 to his opening 68 for 137, five shots off the pace. Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen both made the made the cut with identical second rounds of 70 tagged on to their opening 73s for a one-under 143. Charl Schwartzel missed the cut aftre rounds of 75 and 74 for 149.
Four-time Major winner McIlroy is chasing his first PGA Tour win since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March last year.
‘I felt really comfortable and I enjoyed it,’ he added. ‘I’ll try to keep that focus and commit. Two rounds is a long, long time but I’ve put myself in a good position.’
Poulter hit a 66 that featured an eagle, seven birdies, a bogey and one double bogey to finish on nine under.
He is joined by Mexican Abraham Ancer and Americans Brian Harman and Jim Furyk, who shot a brilliant 64.
World No1 Dustin Johnson is on seven under after a 68 while compatriot Keegan Bradley, who shared the overnight lead with Fleetwood, slipped back to six under after a 73.
Scotland’s Russell Knox is also on six under, two strokes ahead of world No2 Justin Rose, who recovered from a first-round 74 with a 66 on Friday, while fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell is also on four-under.
Tiger Woods is a stroke further back after carding a 71 that included a quadruple bogey at the par-three 17th when the 14-time Major winner hit two balls in the water.
‘I was pretty ticked,” he said. ‘I was determined to get it all back. Other than 17 I really haven’t done a whole lot wrong. Anyone who makes the cut has a chance.’
Several big names missed the cut, which was set at one-under. Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth both finished at one over, with Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson three shots further back.
132 Tommy Fleetwood 65 67, Rory McIlroy 67 65
135 Abraham Ancer 69, 66, Jim Furyk 71 64, Brian Harman 66 69, Ian Poulter 69 66
136 Jason Day 70 66, Kevin Kisner 68 68, Keith Mitchell 71 65
137 Dustin Johnson 69 68, Byeong Hun An 66 71, Luke List 69 68, JT Poston 68 69, Jon Rahm 69 68, Rory Sabbatini 68 69, Vaughn Taylor 67 70
138 Keegan Bradley 65 73, Russell Knox 70 68, Patrick Reed 69 69
Photo of McIlroy by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
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