Players Championship: Rory McIlroy equals back-nine record at Sawgrass

Rory McIlroy has finished eighth, sixth and eighth in the last three years at Sawgrass
Rory McIlroy has finished eighth, sixth and eighth in the last three years at Sawgrass
Players Championship second-round leaderboard
-15: J Day (Aus) -11: S Lowry (Ire); -10: J Blixt (Swe), A Cejka (Ger), C Tringale (US); Selected others -9: R Knox (Sco); -8: R McIlroy (NI); -6: A Scott (Aus); -5: J Rose (Eng); -4: P Casey (Eng), I Poulter (Eng); -2: G McDowell (NI); -1: R Fowler (US), D Willett (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)

Rory McIlroy hit an eight-under-par 64, which included a record-equalling 29 on the back nine, to move into contention at the Players Championship.

McIlroy began day two level par but had five birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes after starting on the 10th.

World number one Jason Day was one of 39 men who had to finish round two on Saturday after Friday's weather delay.

Another birdie put Day 15 under, four clear of Shane Lowry, while Masters champion Danny Willett missed the cut.

Day was on the 15th hole when play was suspended on Friday because of darkness, following an earlier two-hour delay due to lightning in the Ponte Vedre area.

He returned on Saturday to birdie the hole, completing a 66 for a 36-hole tournament record.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy, meanwhile, continued his impressive form on the closing holes at Sawgrass.

He has played the back nine in 44 under par since 2013, compared to 12 over par for the front nine.

The 27-year-old was one of the early starters and took advantage of one of his favourite stretches of holes, sinking a 25-foot putt for birdie on the 10th.

He got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-five 11th, before making it four birdies in a row on the 12th and 13th.

After a first par of the day on the 14th, the four-time major winner holed from six feet on the 15th for birdie.

From 50ft across the green he eagled the 16th, only to leave another long-range putt inches short on the par-three 17th island hole.

He managed two further birdies on the front nine and came to the par-five ninth, his final hole, needing a birdie to set a new course record of 62.

But faced with a second shot from 271 yards, the four-time major winner surprisingly opted to lay up and then missed the green from 90 yards with his approach, before fluffing a chip and recording his only bogey of the day.

Recent Players Championship winners
2015: R Fowler (US) -12 (won after play-off)
2014: M Kaymer (Ger) -13
2013: T Woods (US) -13
2012: M Kuchar (US) -13
2011: KJ Choi (Kor) -13

Lowry also started on the back nine and bogeyed the 14th and birdied the 16th before sending his tee shot into the water on the 17th.

However at the next he holed out from 120 yards for only the sixth eagle in tournament history on the 18th.

Birdies on the second and third, either side of the delay, were followed by another on the fifth to leave the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational champion in contention for a second PGA Tour title.

The cut came at two under, one too many for Willett, defending champion Rickie Fowler and world number two Jordan Spieth.

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