Sam Burns and Tom Hoge hold halfway lead at The Players, Casey and Fleetwood two back; McIlroy nine shots back after making it through on the cut-mark – watch the conclusion live on Sky Sports The Players
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 13/03/22 7:03pm
Paul Casey continued his remarkable recovery at The Players to get within two strokes of the halfway lead, as Rory McIlroy narrowly avoided missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass.
The world No 27 triple-bogeyed his opening hole of the tournament on Thursday before three late birdies salvaged a first-round 70, with Casey then posting an impressive bogey-free 69 on Sunday to stay in touch with 36-hole pacesetters Sam Burns and Tom Hoge.
Burns nailed a 75-foot eagle at the par-five 16th to close a three-under 69 and reach seven-under alongside overnight co-leader Hoge, who posted a second-round 71, while Harold Varner III and Erik van Rooyen both sit a shot off the halfway lead.
Casey followed birdies at the second and sixth by draining a 50-footer at the par-three 17th to join the group on five under that contains Tommy Fleetwood, who signed for a one-over 73, while the entire field is separated by just nine strokes heading into the final two rounds.
“I know I got the lucky side of the draw,” Casey said. “I’m very aware of that and it has been interesting watching the guys battle on the other side. I mean, I believe in the golfing gods and karma, so I don’t sit there gleefully watching it.”
McIlroy said after a second successive 73 on Saturday that he “might be one short” of sneaking through to the final 36 holes, with the Northern Irishman facing an anxious wait on Sunday before eventually making it through on the cut mark of two over.
Star names struggle at Sawgrass
World No 1 Jon Rahm birdied two of his last three holes to salvage a level-par 72 and stay within four of the lead, as Collin Morikawa – one of four players able to leapfrog the Spaniard at the top of the rankings this week – joined a host of big names in suffering an early exit.
“Luckily I was on the other side [of the draw],” Rahm said. “Today I was able to play a rather mediocre round of golf and post a decent score and I’m still in the hunt for this tournament, so I consider myself lucky.”
Scottie Scheffler joined McIlroy in making the cut on the number after dropping six shots in a four-hole stretch on his way to a four-over 76, while Patrick Cantlay missed out after triple-bogeyed the par-three 17th and struggling to a second-round 77.
Jason Day followed an opening-round 69 with a six-over 78 to join the likes of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele in finishing outside the projected cut.
The third round will be played in threeballs and off two tees, with no preferred lies in place, but won’t finish until Monday because of the significant weather delays earlier in the week. The PGA Tour remain hopeful that the tournament will be completed on Monday.
Who will win The Players? Watch the conclusion to the PGA Tour’s flagship event live on Sky Sports’ dedicated channel – Sky Sports The Players. Live coverage of day five will begin on Monday from midday.