sport

Tale of two halves for Rory

Rory McIlroy remains perplexed by the front nine at TPC Sawgrass where he has struggled during the opening three rounds of the Players Championship.

After just making the cut on Friday, the Northern Irishman returned on Saturday to post a third round 69 - his lowest score of the week.

But, once again, the front nine caused him problems with McIlroy needing 38 strokes to reach the turn before notching five birdies coming home - including a hat-trick on the last three.

Teeing-off early, he made a bogey on the first, had a double-bogey on the fourth and another bogey at the sixth.

On day one he suffered three bogeys on the front nine which then required 42 strokes on Friday - when he carded a 74.

So far this week he has played 117 shots - nine-over-par - on holes one-to-nine and has had just 96 on the homeward journey.

And McIlroy said: "If I had just kept it around even par for the front nine, I'd be up near the leaders.

"I'm really happy with how I've been able to come back the last couple of days but it's also a little frustrating that I've had to come back because I feel like I'm playing good enough to not have these little stretches of bad holes.

"I felt like I wasn't playing as badly as the score was suggesting today. I'd hit five greens in seven holes and I was four over par.

"I hadn't really done much wrong. I had three really big lip-outs on the front nine also."