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THE PLAYERS Championship

and hitting the shots. I’m confident in the path that I’m on.” The fact that the path took him across 72 wondrous holes at the first PLAYERS in March since 2006 and at a time when his game and personality were clearly on form made for arguably one of the most glorious editions of the TOUR’s flagship event. Fulfilling the vision TOUR officials had for the move to March—a greener Stadium Course with consistent rough, firmer greens, cooler and more challenging wind, an engaged and festive crowd in a spring-break mood—marquee names joined the fray. McIlroy (67-65) and Tommy Fleetwood shared the 36-hole lead but got passed by Jon Rahm’s sizzling 64 in the third round. With Rahm at 15-under and one clear of McIlroy (70) and Fleetwood, others were in the mix—Day sitting two back, Dustin Johnson tied with Keegan Bradley and Furyk at 10-under. What played out in the final round will be memorable—from the inexplicable (Rahm attempting a risky shot out of a fairway bunker on the par-5 11th that he deposited into water to halt his chances)

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to the improbable (Furyk stuffing an approach at 18 for a birdie that seemed to signal victory, until McIlroy birdied 15 and 16). But mostly, THE PLAYERS 2019 will be recalled for McIlroy’s masterful work that left him overflowing with pride. The drilled 6-iron from 180 yards from a fairway bunker to birdie 15, the two-putt birdie at the par-5 16th, the hold-yourbreath shot onto the island green 17th and the gut-check of a drive into the fairway at 18 were the finishing touches he had not had at any of his previous five 2019 tournaments (T-4, T-5, T-4, 2nd, T-6), so he flashed the infectious McIlroy smile. “The fact that this win has come at this tournament, a tournament where Sawgrass and I didn’t have the greatest relationship [he missed the cut his first three tries and had a short week and a T-35 his last two seasons] and I’m very thankful to the PGA TOUR for putting it back to March. That was very helpful for me.” Polite kid, but the truth is, it was moved back to March for everyone. McIlroy just happened to take advantage better than most. 

McIlroy attempts a birdie putt on the 17th green during the final round at THE PLAYERS 2019.

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03/06/2019 14:41

Profile for Magazine

Official PGA TOUR Essential Guide to Golf: June - November 2019  

In this issue of the Official PGA TOUR Essential Guide to Golf, Rory McIlroy emerges from THE PLAYERS Championship with an important title....

Official PGA TOUR Essential Guide to Golf: June - November 2019  

In this issue of the Official PGA TOUR Essential Guide to Golf, Rory McIlroy emerges from THE PLAYERS Championship with an important title....