Rory McIlroy once again finds himself in contention heading into the weekend of a PGA Tour event after shooting a seven-under 65 in Friday's second round to grab a share of the lead at the 2019 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
McIlroy, who remains winless in 2019 despite recording five consecutive top-10 finishes, stands at 12 under through 36 holes, which is good for a tie with Tommy Fleetwood for first place.
He tallied an eagle, six birdies and a bogey in Round 2.
McIlroy's day got off to an inauspicious start as he yanked his first tee shot into the right rough en route to a bogey. As it turned out, he wouldn't drop another shot the rest of the day.
It was another tee-to-green clinic from the 29-year-old Northern Irishman, who found 78.6 percent of the fairways and 88.9 percent of the greens in regulation.
The four-time major champion birdied the second hole to get right back level for the day, and he found another gear as he neared the turn.
McIlroy rolled in three straight birdies, starting on the par-three seventh, and added another on the 12th to vault up the leaderboard.
His best hole of the day was the par-five 16th. He hit a perfect tee shot to the right side of the fairway, hit his approach to just inside 10 feet and then rolled in the eagle putt.
After missing the cut in the Players last year, McIlroy is enjoying the tournament's return to its March slot on the schedule after it had been moved to May in 2007.
"You've got all these funky lines and in May it gets firm. You get a bad bounce here," he told reporters after the first round. "With the [over-seeded rough] and how lush the grass is, even if you hit it into these banks, it's not going too far, so you can be a little more aggressive."
He's managed just post a single bogey through two rounds while playing that more aggressive style.
Now the focus for McIlroy shifts to playing his best golf this weekend. He's been knocking on the door all season, but mistakes on Saturday and Sunday have kept him from securing his first win since the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March.
The drought could end in the Players if his play over the next two days matches the first two.