Players Championship 2019: Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood Share Round 2 Lead

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 15:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after a birdie on the 17th green during the second round of The PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 15, 2019 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood share the lead at 12 under in the 2019 Players Championship following Friday's second round at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

McIlroy, who hasn't finished outside the top 10 across five PGA Tour starts in 2019, played his final 11 holes at seven-under par en route to a 65. Fleetwood posted a five-under 67 to remain atop the leaderboard after tying Keegan Bradley for the top spot after Round 1.

Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter, Brian Harman and Abraham Ancer are tied for third at nine under.

McIlroy played himself into contention in last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational until a final-round 72 dropped him to sixth place. Amazingly, that's his worst result this year.

The 29-year-old Northern Irishman has been a constant presence atop the leaderboard, but weekend mistakes have prevented him from getting in a win column. He'll look to reverse that trend over the next two days after recording just one bogey through 36 holes.

McIlroy recorded four birdies in a five-hole stretch, starting on No. 8, and finished strong with an eagle and a birdie over his final three holes to surge into a tie for the top spot.

Fleetwood is also trending in the right direction as the PGA Tour moves toward next month's Masters, the first major championship of the season. He finished third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week.

The 2018 U.S. Open runner-up came flying out of the gate by going birdie, eagle, birdie to threaten running away with the tournament. He only played one-under golf the rest of the way, however, which left the door open for McIlroy to make his late charge.

Fleetwood said the terrific start was a carryover from his pre-round work on the range.

"I'd warmed up so well, you want to take that out on to the course, and I had a good round yesterday, and it was just a perfect, perfect start," he told reporters. "You know it's going to be a tough afternoon. So to get sort of a head start on the golf course, really good."

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods played 17 holes of rock-solid golf Friday. The one bad hole was an unmitigated disaster, however, as he hit two balls in the water on the famed par-three 17th island hole to ultimately card a quadruple bogey. It eliminated almost all of his progress in a one-under 71.

Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Zach Johnson headlined the group of golfers who missed the one-under cut after the second round.

Both McIlroy and Fleetwood found themselves in a similar position one week ago and failed to convert. The question Saturday is whether stay hot and turn the Players into a two-player race, or if their weekend woes return to bring the rest of the field back into the picture for Sunday.

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