Players Championship leaderboard 2019 | Jason Day three shots from lead

Rory McIlroy unleashes over 'epidemic' ruining the PGA Tour

Again at the 14th, he put his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into a greenside bunker, his attempt to save par from five feet not even touching the cup.

McIlroy's 15th PGA Tour title has lifted him to fourth in the world rankings and made him the betting favourite for the Masters, but domestic duties will ensure the four-time major victor keeps his feet firmly on the ground.

RIGHT: Jim Furyk wound back the clock to take second place on his own at TPC Sawgrass, the American one shot back of McIlroy.

Jon Rahm, of Spain, reacts to a missed putt on the ninth hole during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The nagging issue of playing in nine straight final groups without a win still persists -- he was in the second-to-last group Sunday - but hardly matters now. Dating back to January 2018, that had happened to McIlroy nine times. What McIlroy took away from those weeks, however, was not the disappointment of losing. Instead of dwelling on every bad shot, it's always on to the next one and concentrating on the positives. I haven't been healthy in a lot of years. "I'm glad I showed the strength mentally more than anything". "It was going to try to hold it for a while, but I knew as hard as I was hitting it, it was going to land, the wind was getting it, and it came off exactly how I planned". Despite being in contention every week, golfers are often judged by wins and it had been almost a year to the day since his last victory. He chose to focus on what he was doing well, knowing if he continued to play this way the wins would come sooner or later.

Two putts later he had his first Players title.

"I just kept patient toward the end, that was it".

Rory McIlroy unleashes over 'epidemic' ruining the PGA Tour

That includes last year's Masters, when he played with 54-hole leader Patrick Reed. He ranks 57th on tour in strokes gained: putting in 2019 after not being higher than 97th the past four seasons. It was at Augusta a year ago that his recent struggles on Sunday began. Spieth and Thomas are tied for fifth at +1400. The Open Championship will be played in his backyard, at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, a venue where he set the course record as a 16-year-old.

On Saturday, Furyk didn't have as much success, shooting another 71, but he played well enough to stay within striking distance for Sunday. "And I think that has been the key this week". I think it's been having a focus over the last six or seven months on my attitude.

"Well, there's pros and cons as there's the expectations that are a tricky thing really because it can always lead to different sides", he said.

"Who I am as a person isn't who I am as a golfer", he said. That includes his painful collapse in 2011 as well as 2015, when he came to Augusta National on the heels of a pair of major wins and as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, only to get smoked by Jordan Spieth and finish fourth. "I've got a bit of green on". "And usually it works out because you've committed to it, you've got a clear head, and the last two days I've piped it down 18 by just remembering that tiny little thing from Hong Kong 10 years ago". It's fitting company for him. Across the globe, McIlroy generates more interest than any other golfer besides Tiger Woods.

It's easier said than done, to be sure - and perhaps especially for Mr. McIlroy, whose singular talent in the eyes of many should have already netted him many more than the 24 trophies on his mantel.

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