Rory McIlroy wins, Hideki Matsuyama 8th at Players Championship

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Jon Rahm hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation during his final round at the PLAYERS Championship, finishing at 11 under for the tournament. A tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th hole moved him to 16-under, a shot ahead of Furyk, and a lead he would not relinquish. After shooting a 1-under 71 on a blustery Thursday afternoon, Furyk played in calmer conditions on Friday morning and shot a course-best 8-under 64, making eight birdies and 10 pars. But it is good to get it, especially on this golf course.

Rory McIlroy did not need the luck of the Irish to walk away a victor at The Players Championship. His three bogeys on the way out put him in a hole, and he now sits at three under in a share of 43rd.

Given the nature of this golf course - and a forecast for a different wind - the fun might just be starting.

"I'm comfortable with where everything is", McIlroy said. "But there's a lot of golf to play before that".

The 48-year-old Furyk shot an impressive 5-under 67 on Sunday despite hard weather conditions. After all, this is a guy who rattled off five worldwide wins in 2012 and bagged a pair of majors two years later.

You have to think that McIlroy's stock is as hot as ever coming off the TPC victory and a rather solid start to the 2019 season.

The supremely talented and long-hitting 29-year-old said he has never been more consistent and that has only come with balance in his life.

Now he has a victory against the strongest field in golf at The Players, which is feeling more and more like a major in everything but the label, to go with a runner-up in Dubai and top finishes everywhere else. "It's a nice gift, an opportunity".

Earning a one-shot win at TPC Sawgrass from 48-year-old Jim Furyk, McIlroy usurped World No.1 Dustin Johnson as the favourite with Australian bookmakers to win Augusta National's green jacket in April. Everyone from the top 50 in the world is playing this week. And he had his chances; he teed off in the final group on Day Four thrice in those same five starts, only to walk off empty-handed.

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He twice called for a trainer, who applied tape just below Nadal's knee. "My goal is to play on all the surfaces", he said. Federer won just two more games in the set. "He's unbelievable in defense", Khachanov said.

However, four birdies on the back nine salvaged his round to leave him very much in contention on Sunday. He left behind the world-class golfer with 15 PGA Tour victories and four majors before turning 30 - Nicklaus and Woods are the only others who have done that since the Masters began in 1934.

But he has been patient. There is no sense of panic or a need to start pressing if he gets into that position again.

"I (debuted at Sawgrass) as a 19-year-old in 2009, missing the cut, getting kicked out of bars in Jacksonville Beach for being under age, so I've come a long way in those 10 years", McIlroy said.

"At that point, I didn't know what to expect". He rallied back with birdies on the 9th, 11th and 12th, where he took the solo lead at 15-under.

"Who I am as a person isn't who I am as a golfer", he said.

That would be Phil Mickelson, who didn't play very inspired, at all.

It is an enviable record and no player this year would swap it.

Then came a 347-yard drive to provide the platform for the decisive birdie on the 16th before a 288-yard missile from the nerve-wracking 18th tee. He had a 69. "Trying to keep the two things separate", he said.

This felt just as good, perhaps because of his standing in the tournament. He hit the right shot on the par-3 13th, with the pin below a ridge near the water, into 3 feet for another birdie.

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