McIlroy leads, then slams slow play

LOS ANGELES • Rory McIlroy has slammed the PGA Tour for allowing too much time between shots, saying that the situation is fast becoming an "epidemic".

The Northern Irishman was speaking after Friday's second round of the Players Championship, where he fired a seven-under 65 to grab a share of the midway lead with Tommy Fleetwood (67) at 12-under 132.

"Tour officials don't do anything about it," said McIlroy, who along with playing partners Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, had to wait on almost all the tee boxes and fairways.

"It's become somewhat of an epidemic on tour. Look, it's our livelihoods and people are going to take their time.

"And as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time. But the fact that someone didn't finish (on Thursday)... that's unacceptable."

Anirban Lahiri had to return for a final putt on Friday morning to finish his first round and several players had to scramble to beat the darkness in the second round.

"I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn't take any over that," added McIlroy, who checked his watch and noted that it was 5hr 40min after his tee time.

"Honestly, I think (the Tour) should just be a little tougher and start penalising shots earlier, and that would be an easy way to fix it."

Ian Poulter (66), Jim Furyk (64), Brian Harman (69) and Abraham Ancer (66) were tied for third at 135 at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

After making changes last year, McIlroy felt he is on the right track with the Masters, and a chance to complete a career Grand Slam, just a month away.

He began Friday's round with his lone bogey of the day before going on to make one eagle and six birdies.

"I felt like I came back well," he said. "Once I got a birdie on the eighth it started to snowball."

This is the second straight week Fleetwood has had a share of the 36-hole lead, after starting quickly on Friday with a birdie-eagle-birdie beginning to his round.

"All in all, I am very happy. Happy my game is improving and I am getting up there more and more," said Fleetwood.

Tiger Woods just made the cut with a 71 but was left hovering along the cut line after a quadruple bogey seven on the picturesque par-three island green. He finished tied for 41st with a 141 total, nine strokes back of the leaders.

Players who did not make the cut included American Jordan Spieth (69), China's Li Haotong (75) and Mickelson (74), who missed the cut here for the sixth time in his last seven tries.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 17, 2019, with the headline 'McIlroy leads, then slams slow play'. Print Edition | Subscribe