McIlroy takes 65 years to join Fleetwood in first place in the Swing Update players' championship


Rory McIlroy is only aiming for his second PGA Tour victory since 2016

Ranking in the second round of the players' championship-12 T Fleetwood (Eng), R McIlroy (NI); -9 J Furyk (United States), B Harman (United States), I Poulter (Eng), A Ancer (Mex); -8 K Kisner (US), Mitchell K (US), J Day (Aus)Other selected: -7 D Johnson (US); -6 R Knox (Sco), K. Bradley (US); -4 J Rose (Eng), E. Pepperell (Eng); -3 T Woods (US), Mr. Fitzpatrick (Eng); -2 M Wallace (Eng) Full rank

Rory McIlroy made an impressive outing late to join Tommy Fleetwood at the head of the Players Championship 12 years after the second round at Sawgrass.

29-year-old Northern Ireland made three birdies and one eagle in the back of the last nine cards to give a superb seven hundred and fifty under par.

The 28-year-old Fleetwood of England had already hit a 67, making five birdies and two bogeys and also shooting a bunker for an eagle in the second.

"I have to keep doing the same thing," McIlroy told Sky Sports.

"It did not happen to me last week but I did so many good things and it's nice to play with confidence."

The four-time major winner continues his first PGA Tour victory since the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament last March.

"I felt really comfortable and it rained," he added.

"I'm going to try to stay focused and engaged, two rounds, it's a long one, but I'm fine."

McIlroy and Fleetwood lead a group of four players, including Englishman Ian Poulter, with three shots in Florida.

Poulter hit 66 with an eagle, seven birdies, a bogey and a double bogey to finish at nine under.

He is accompanied by Mexican Abraham Ancer and Americans Brian Harman and Jim Furyk, who shot 64 brilliants.

The world number one, Dustin Johnson, has seven defeats after a 68 while his compatriot Keegan Bradley, who shared the lead overnight with Fleetwood, slipped to six under the total after a 73.

Scotland's Russell Knox also has six hits under the bar, two shots ahead of world number two Justin Rose, who recovered from first round 74 with a score of 66 on Friday, while fellow countryman Eddie Pepperell also has four points.

Tiger Woods is a shot a step further back after getting a 71 with a quadruple bogey at the normal 17, while the big winner hit two balls in the water.

"I was pretty excited," he says. "I was determined to recover everything.

"Aside from the 17 years, I really have not done a lot of bad, all those who are successful in the cup have a chance."

The Englishman Matt Wallace, who writes a daily newspaper for BBC Sport, is on penny, while fellow countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick is at the forefront.

Several big names missed the cup, which was set at a penny.

Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth both finished with a double, with Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson three shots away.

Paul Casey was unable to recover from an opening lap 78 and finished the eighth.

The BBC Sport website will feature live updates from Saturday's third round and Sunday's final round starting at 18:00 GMT on both days.