Rory McIlroy’s Players title bid fades after erratic second round at Sawgrass

Home > Tours > PGA Tour > Rory McIlroy’s Players title bid fades after erratic second round at Sawgrass
McIlroy is eight shots behind leader Wyndham Clark at the midway point at Sawgrass.
Posted on
March 15, 2024
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Rory McIlroy’s bid for a second Players Championship victory suffered a potentially fatal blow as Scottie Scheffler played through the pain barrier to keep his hopes of an historic title defence alive.

McIlroy held a share of the overnight lead following an opening 65 at Sawgrass, but could only add a second round of 73 to slump eight shots behind US Open champion Wyndham Clark.

An erratic start saw McIlroy card three birdies and three bogeys in the first six holes and, after reaching the turn in 35 with a birdie on the ninth, the world number two bogeyed the 12th, birdied the 13th and double-bogeyed the next in a frustrating inward nine of 38.

Scheffler had earlier received treatment from a PGA Tour physio during a second round of 69 which left him six behind Clark, who reached halfway at 14 under par thanks to a second-consecutive 65.

“I hit a shot on my second hole today and I felt a little something in my neck,” Scheffler, who had started from the 10th hole, explained.

“Then I tried to hit my tee shot on 12 and that’s when I could barely get the club back. So I got some treatment, maybe it loosened up a tiny bit, but most of the day I was pretty much labouring to get the club somehow away from me.

“I did what I could to kind of stay in the tournament today and hopefully it’ll loosen up and then I’ll be able to make somewhat normal swings tomorrow.

“The way I was getting around the course, the way my neck was feeling, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue playing, so yeah, good fight out there.”

Scheffler, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots on Sunday, is bidding to become the first player to successfully defend the Players Championship title in its 50-year history.

Clark made eight birdies – including five in six holes around the turn – to end the day four shots clear of Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and Canada’s Nick Taylor, with Matt Fitzpatrick and Maverick McNealy another stroke back.

“My iron play’s been very solid, I’ve rolled in a handful of putts and then I’ve really been mentally strong so I’d say all of those things are why I’m sitting where I am right now,” Clark said.

Wyndham Clark
Wyndham Clark was the clubhouse leader during the second round of The Players Championship (Lynne Sladky/AP)

England’s Fitzpatrick held the outright lead when he carded his fifth birdie of the day on the third, his 12th hole, to reach 10 under par, only to find the water with his approach from the rough on the next to run up a double bogey.

“I felt the lie was good enough to kind of hack it on to the right side (of the green),” said Fitzpatrick, who birdied his final hole of the day to add a 69 to his opening 66.

“I was aiming at the right bunker, which if you kind of go back there, you realise how far right it was. It just kind of snagged me and went left.

“Otherwise I felt like I did everything well. Just felt like I played solid overall. Made a couple of putts when I needed to, drove the ball well and my approach play was good as well.”

Asked about trailing Clark by five shots, Fitzpatrick added: “Anything can happen over the weekend, there’s still two days, so you never know.

“Another couple of six-under rounds over the weekend and you never know what can happen. So, for me it’s just about trying to stay patient, just keep doing what I’m doing and go from there.”

The second round was suspended at 7:30 p.m. ET due to darkness with two players left to complete the round and will resume at 7:50 a.m. Saturday.

Pos.PlayersTo ParThruRoundR1R2Total
1Wyndham Clark-14F-76565130
T2Xander Schauffele-10F-36569134
T2Nick Taylor-10F-46668134
T4Matt Fitzpatrick-9F-36669135
T4Maverick McNealy-9F-46768135
T6Matti Schmid-8F-46868136
T6Scottie Scheffler-8F-36769136
T6Corey Conners-8F-46868136
T6Tom Hoge-8F-36769136
T10J.T. Poston-7F-46968137
T10Brian Harman-7F-77265137
T10Sahith Theegala-7F-57067137
T10C.T. Pan-7F-46968137
T14Hideki Matsuyama-6F-36969138
T14Harris English-6F-36969138
T14Chris Kirk-6F-26870138
T14Taylor Montgomery-6F-26870138
T14Jason Day-6F-16771138
T14Rory McIlroy-6F+16573138
T14Sepp Straka-6F-26870138
T14Nate Lashley-6F-26870138
T22Sam Ryder-5F-37069139
T22Cameron Young-5F-37069139
T22Ryan Moore-5F-37069139
T22Christiaan Bezuidenhout-5F-26970139
T22Lee Hodges-5F-26970139
T27Matt NeSmith-4F-57367140
T27Keith Mitchell-4F-16971140
T27Collin Morikawa-4F-37169140
T27Austin Eckroat-4F-37169140
T27Ludvig Åberg-4F+16773140
T27Emiliano Grillo-4F-16971140
T27Taylor Moore-4F-47268140
T34Doug Ghim-3F-27170141
T34Mark Hubbard-3F+16873141
T34Seamus Power-3F-37269141
T34Francesco Molinari-3F-37269141
T34Tony Finau-3FPar6972141
T34Shane Lowry-3F-27170141
T34Chan Kim-3F-17071141
T34Joel Dahmen-3F-57467141
T34Alex Noren-3F-27170141
T34Si Woo Kim-3F-17071141
T34Kurt Kitayama-3F-17071141
T45Denny McCarthy-2F-17171142
T45Grayson Murray-2F-37369142
T45Tyler Duncan-2F+36775142
T45Jimmy Stanger-2F+16973142
T45Tommy Fleetwood-2FPar7072142
T45Adam Schenk-2F-17171142
T45Viktor Hovland-2F-37369142
T45Patrick Cantlay-2F-27270142
T45Adam Scott-2FPar7072142
T45Sungjae Im-2FPar7072142
T55Peter Malnati-1F+17073143
T55Dylan Wu-1F+26974143
T55Jake Knapp-1FPar7172143
T55Max Homa-1F+36875143
T55Rickie Fowler-1F-37469143
T55J.J. Spaun-1F-17271143
T55Gary Woodland-1F+17073143
T55Mackenzie Hughes-1F+17073143
T55Andrew Putnam-1F+26974143
T55Ben Martin-1F-17271143
T55Sami Valimaki-1FPar7172143
T55Zac Blair-1F-27370143
T55Aaron Rai-1FPar7172143
T55Min Woo Lee-1F-27370143
T55Thomas Detry-1FPar7172143
T55Sam Burns-1F-27370143
T55Brice Garnett-1FPar7172143
T55Martin Laird-1F+17073143
T55David Lipsky-1F-27370143
Projected Cut
T74Stephan JaegerEFPar7272144
T74Luke ListEF+36975144
T74Akshay BhatiaEFPar7272144
T74Ben GriffinEF-17371144
T74David SkinnsEF+17173144
T74Lucas GloverEF-37569144
T74Webb SimpsonEF-17371144
T74Ryo HisatsuneE17+270-70
T82Patrick Rodgers+1F+17273145
T82Hayden Buckley+1F+27174145
T82Beau Hossler+1F+27174145
T82Justin Thomas+1F+27174145
T82S.H. Kim+1F-17471145
T82Brandon Wu+1F-27570145
T82Erik van Rooyen+1F+27174145
T82Billy Horschel+1F+27174145
T82Ryan Fox+1F+46976145
T82Justin Suh+1F-37669145
T82Tyson Alexander+1F+27174145
T82Ben Silverman+117+172-72
T94Nico Echavarria+2F+17373146
T94Davis Thompson+2F-17571146
T94Eric Cole+2F+27274146
T94Troy Merritt+2F+17373146
T94Chesson Hadley+2F-17571146
T94Carson Young+2F+37175146
T94Matt Kuchar+2FPar7472146
T94Jordan Spieth+2FPar7472146
T94Russell Henley+2F+17373146
T94Steve Stricker+2F+27274146
T94Greyson Sigg+2F-17571146
T94Justin Lower+2F+37175146
T106Kevin Yu+3F+17473147
T106Alex Smalley+3F+57077147
T106Matthieu Pavon+3F+57077147
T106Nick Dunlap+3F-27770147
T106Matt Wallace+3F+27374147
T106Adam Svensson+3F+17473147
T106Chez Reavie+3F+17473147
T106Justin Rose+3F+57077147
T114Davis Riley+4F+27474148
T114Will Zalatoris+4F+37375148
T114Andrew Novak+4F+27474148
T114Michael Kim+4F+86880148
T114Joseph Bramlett+4F-17771148
T114Adam Hadwin+4F+17573148
T120Byeong Hun An+5F+86980149
T120Nicolai Højgaard+5F+47376149
T120Charley Hoffman+5F+27574149
T120Sam Stevens+5F+47376149
T120Chad Ramey+5F+47376149
T125Aaron Baddeley+6F+47476150
T125Taylor Pendrith+6F+37575150
T125Carl Yuan+6F+47476150
T125Ben Taylor+6F+57377150
T125Vincent Norrman+6F+17773150
T125Scott Stallings+6F+47476150
T125Brendon Todd+6F+47476150
T125Keegan Bradley+6F+67278150
T125Robert MacIntyre+6F+47476150
T134Nick Hardy+7F+57477151
T134Harry Hall+7F+27774151
T134K.H. Lee+7F+47576151
T137Kevin Streelman+8F+37775152
T137Robby Shelton+8FPar8072152
T139Callum Tarren+9F+67578153
T139Ben Kohles+9F+18073153
141Camilo Villegas+11F+107382155
142Cam Davis+17F+107982161
W/DGarrick Higgo---73-73
W/DTom Kim------
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