Rory McIlroy played a tee shot into a swimming pool during a shocking start to his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play campaign, where he was hammered 6 and 5 by Ian Poulter.

The Northern Irishman has had well documented issues with his swing in recent weeks and has linked up with renowned coach Pete Cowen for the tournament at the Austin Country Club.

But McIlroy struggled badly during his round-robin opener against fellow Europe Ryder Cup star Poulter and was already two down by the time he pulled his tee shot wildly left at the fifth tee, with his ball sinking into the pool at a nearby house.

He managed to claw within one by the eighth, but Poulter then won five holes in a row to condemn McIlroy to a heavily opening defeat in Group 11, where Cameron Smith beat Lanto Griffin in the pool's other opener.

Dustin Johnson had no such woe as he started with a 2 Up win over Adam Long in Group One, while Jon Rahm defeated Sebastian Munoz 1 Up (Group 3), and Bryson DeChambeau overcame Antoine Rozner 2 Up (Group 5).

Justin Thomas was beaten 3 and 2 by Matt Kuchar (Group 2), though, while Jordan Spieth outclassed Matthew Fitzpatrick 3 and 1 (Group 15) despite a comedy moment when he drove the 15th green…but from the 13th tee.

Justin Thomas claimed a one-stroke victory at The Players Championship after a run of three birdies and an eagle across four holes unseated overnight leader Lee Westwood on Sunday.

World number three and American star Thomas – fuelled by a four-under-par 64 – headed into the final round at TPC Sawgrass three strokes adrift of Westwood.

Westwood (72) had finished second at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, trailing Bryson DeChambeau (71), who was his nearest competitor again at the end of Saturday's play.

Westwood would be a runner-up once more, but this time was bested by Thomas, who stormed into the lead thanks to a frantic spell.

Westwood lacked momentum throughout his round and was back at 12 under – one over for the day – at the turn when Thomas took flight.

Thomas bogeyed the eighth but responded with a birdie at the ninth and suddenly found form.

He made three at the par-four 10th and then, with the day's decisive putt, claimed the lead outright with an eagle from 19 feet at 11. Another birdie at the next hole secured breathing space.

Although Westwood recovered to end the day as he started it, at 13 under, there was only a brief Thomas wobble with bogey at 14 followed by birdie at 16.

Thomas, who has a single major title at the 2017 US PGA Championship, claimed a maiden triumph at The Players and returned to the winner's circle for the first time since August's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

It is also Thomas' 14th PGA Tour triumph, becoming the fourth player since 1960 to win 14 times on Tour before turning 28 – joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.

"I fought so hard today," said Thomas, who tied the lowest final 36-hole score in Players history with his 64-68 (132) over the weekend. "I stayed patient. It was probably one of the best rounds of my life, tee to green."

Brian Harman used a final-round 69 to finish tied for third alongside U.S. Open champion DeChambeau – two shots behind Thomas.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson (71) and Jason Day (73) were among the players to end the tournament 35th in the standings, 11 shots off the pace.

Dustin Johnson (71) – the world number one – climbed up into a tie for 48th at one under, a stroke better off than Jordan Spieth (75), who is still without a win since 2017.

Rory McIlroy admitted chasing Bryson DeChambeau's power cost him after the four-time major champion comfortably missed the cut at The Players Championship as Lee Westwood produced a flawless performance to lead the way.

DeChambeau's power play at last year's U.S. Open has changed golf for many across the PGA and European Tours, with former world number one McIlroy trying to add length to his game.

But defending Players champion McIlroy, without a win since 2019, missed the cut by 10 strokes on Friday – a second-round 75 adding to his opening 79 at TPC Sawgrass.

After another forgettable day, which included a double-bogey, three bogeys and two birdies, McIlroy explained his struggles, telling reporters: "Probably, like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long and too rotational.

"Obviously I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn't a good thing. So I'm sort of fighting to get back out of that. That’s what I'm frustrated with."

McIlroy added: "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't anything to do with what Bryson did at the US Open. I think a lot of people saw that and were like, 'Whoa, if this is the way they're going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps'.

"The one thing that people don't appreciate is how good Bryson is out of the rough. Not only because of how upright he is but because his short irons are longer than standard, so he can get a little more speed through the rough than us, than other guys.

"I thought being able to get some more speed is a good thing and maybe just to the detriment a little bit of my swing, I got there. I just need to maybe rein it back in a little bit."

Westwood had no such trouble during the second round – the Englishman using a six-under-par 66 to earn a one-stroke lead at nine under before darkness suspended play.

After finishing second at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, Westwood roared to the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes via a dazzling round, which included six birdies and no bogeys.

It is the third time Westwood has led after two rounds at The Players Championship – in 2005 and 2010 – but he is yet to win.

The 47-year-old is a two-time PGA Tour champion, though his last success came in 2010.

Countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick (68) is a stroke off the pace, one shot ahead of Chris Kirk (65) and Sergio Garcia (72), who led after the opening round.

U.S. Open champion and Arnold Palmer Invitational winner DeChambeau posted a second-round 69 to be tied for fifth at six under.

World number one Dustin Johnson's second round in the 70s catapulted him up 22 positions into a tie for 36th, eight shots behind Westwood, while Jordan Spieth (74) is a stroke further back.

Xander Schauffele (74) was among the stars to miss the cut – the American's Tour-best streak of 23 consecutive made cuts coming to an end.

Sergio Garcia earned a two-stroke lead thanks to a late surge in the opening round of The Players Championship, while defending champion Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start.

An 18-foot eagle at the final hole propelled Garcia to the round of the day – a seven-under-par 65 – and top spot on Thursday.

Garcia, who won the Players in 2008 and lost a play-off in 2015, gained four strokes from his last three holes in Ponte Vedra Beach, where play was suspended due to darkness.

Masters champion in 2017, Garcia had eagles at the 16th and ninth holes (both par-fives) for his first round at TPC Sawgrass with multiple eagles – his 77th career round.

It is also Garcia's first 65 or better at the venue since 2013, after the Spanish star was almost late for his opening-round tee time.

"I thought I had plenty of time. Obviously I left the range at 7:35, I was teeing off at 7:40 so I figured it's going to take me probably two, three minutes at most to get to 10," Garcia said. 

"I don't know if the clock on the range was behind or something, but when I got to the putting green just like 50 yards short of 10 I kind of looked at it and the sun was coming up so I couldn't see if it was 7:38 or 7:39 but just in case I just took a little stroll, made sure that I got there before it turned to [7:40]."

Brian Harman is five under heading into the second round, a shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Corey Conners and Shane Lowry at the PGA Tour event, where 21 players will complete their first rounds on Friday morning.

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who claimed last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, opened with a first-round 69, highlighted by six birdies.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Jason Day are among 14 players tied for 12th position at two under, while Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas are a stroke further back.

World number one Dustin Johnson signed for a 73, but McIlroy had a quadruple-bogey eight on his card as the former world number one posted a seven-over-par 79.

Still the defending champion after last year's tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, McIlroy returned and struggled dramatically after two balls found water.

McIlroy recorded 43 on the back nine – his first nine – tying the highest opening nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career (677th round).

Henrik Stenson had an even worse day than McIlroy, with an 85 from Sweden's former Open champion featuring two double bogeys and two triples and three balls in the water.

It marked the highest score of Stenson's Tour career, eclipsing his previous high of 83.

Bryson DeChambeau claimed his eighth PGA Tour title after reigning supreme at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

U.S. Open champion and big-hitting American star DeChambeau won by one stroke following his one-under-par 71 in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.

DeChambeau was at his brilliant best as he tamed Bay Hill in a low-scoring final day in windy conditions.

After smacking a 377-yard driver over the lake at the sixth hole, DeChambeau held his nerve to drain a five-foot par for victory ahead of Lee Westwood (73) at 11 under.

"It's been quite a battle this entire time. I don't even know what to say. To win at Mr Palmer's event — it's going to make me cry," a teary DeChambeau said. "It means the world to me."

DeChambeau also singled out 15-time major champion Tiger Woods, who is recovering following a near-fatal single-car crash last week.

Woods holds the record for the most Arnold Palmer Invitational trophies with eight.

"He obviously had done really well here ... we just talked about keep fighting no matter what happened, play boldly like Mr Palmer did," DeChambeau said.

"My heart has been heavy with Tiger and what's been going on with him and I just kept telling myself 'it's now how many times you get kicked down it's about how many times you can pick back up and you keep going'. That's what I surely did out there today."

Canadian golfer Corey Conners finished third at eight under following his final-round 74, two strokes ahead of Andrew Putnam (71), Richy Werenski (73) and former world number one Jordan Spieth (75) – who is searching for his first win since 2017.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy ended the tournament in a tie for 10th, eight shots adrift of DeChambeau, after shooting a four-over-par 76.

Tyrrell Hatton – the defending champion – closed out his campaign with a final-round 77 to be 10 strokes behind the winner.

Corey Conners holds a one-stroke advantage at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after moving clear in the second round as Rory McIlroy stayed within striking distance.

Conners and McIlroy were tied atop the leaderboard overnight, but the former earned the outright lead through 36 holes in Orlando, Florida on Friday.

Canadian golfer Conners, whose sole win on the PGA Tour came via the 2019 Texas Open, was almost flawless after carding a three-under-par 69 at Bay Hill.

Conners used an eagle, two birdies and just one bogey to improve to nine under – a shot ahead of Scotland's 2011 champion Martin Laird (67) – as the 29-year-old earned his second career 36-hole lead/co-lead on Tour.

"I haven't really been in this position a lot, but I have a lot of confidence in my game and feeling really relaxed the last few days, so try and keep that going,'' said Conners, who eagled the par-five 16th hole in each of the first two rounds – just the sixth player to do so at Bay Hill since 1992.

"I feel like I have a lot of energy. I had an off week last week and really excited for the weekend.''

Former world number one McIlroy lost his share of top spot at the halfway stage of the tournament, but the four-time major champion is only two strokes off the pace.

Winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2018, McIlroy shot a one-under-par 71 to be tied for third alongside Norwegian star Viktor Hovland (68) and Lanto Griffin (68).

McIlroy needed just 10 putts on the front nine, one shy of his Tour best on nine holes – the 2016 Players Championship. It marked the 14th time he required only 10 putts on nine holes.

"It could have been the round that I could have shot 74 or 75. I got in with 71 and pretty happy with that,'' McIlroy said post-round.

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is six under overall following his second-round 71.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth (69) – eyeing his first victory since 2017 – is a stroke further back and tied for seventh alongside Justin Rose (68), Paul Casey (69) and Im Sung-jae (70).

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton completed a stunning turnaround as he avoided the cut.

After opening his title defence with a first-round 77, Hatton regrouped by shooting a 67 – a 10-stroke turnaround on Friday.

Patrick Reed was not so fortunate, the 2018 Masters champion's round of 73 and 74 seeing him finish three over, a shot above the cut line.

Rory McIlroy channelled Tiger Woods in the opening round as the former world number one impressed on his way to a share of the one-stroke lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

McIlroy's birdie blitz saw the four-time major champion card a near-flawless six-under-par 66 in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

Winner of the PGA Tour event in 2018, McIlroy holed seven birdies – including five in a row on the back nine – to lift the Northern Irishman to the top of the leaderboard alongside Canada's Corey Conners.

McIlroy's birdie run from the second to the sixth hole tied the second-longest streak of his career in a round on the PGA Tour, having also managed the feat twice in 2015 (Wells Fargo Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational).

Reflecting on his bright start at Bay Hill, McIlroy said he was inspired by 15-time major winner and American superstar Woods – who has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on eight occasions throughout his illustrious career.

Woods is currently recovering after undergoing surgery following a near-fatal single-vehicle crash last week.

"Obviously a 66 is a great way to start the tournament," said McIlroy, who is without a win since 2019. "I feel like you don't have to do anything special to shoot a good score here. You can be really conservative off the tees if you want to be, so there are a bunch of irons that you can hit off tees.

"I think the toughest thing about this course is the par-threes and I played them in three under today, so that was a bonus. But I've watched Tiger enough here over the years and the way he played this course was, he played it very conservatively, he took care of the par-fives, and that was usually good enough to get the job done. So I've taken a little bit of a leaf out of his book."

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is a shot off the pace following his five-under-par 67, while Jason Kokrak, Byeong Hun An and Sebastian Munoz are a stroke further back.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth – eyeing his first victory since 2017 – ended the first round in a tie for 15th and four shots behind the leading pair.

Tyrrell Hatton's title defence got off to a forgettable start after shooting a first-round 77 to be five over the card heading into Friday's second round.

Hometown hero Max Homa survived a play-off against countryman Tony Finau to claim the Genesis Invitational.

Los Angeles native Homa clinched his second PGA Tour title after signing for par on the second play-off hole as Finau could only bogey on Sunday.

A play-off was needed after American pair Homa (70) and Finau (70) finished 12 under through 72 holes at Riviera Country Club in California, where overnight leader Sam Burns (69) ended the tournament a stroke adrift.

Homa – who was born in nearby Burbank – still managed to reign supreme, despite a brutal lip-out on the 72nd hole, which would have sealed victory but it sent the event into a play-off instead.

"Been watching this tournament my whole life, it's why I fell in love with golf – wow, didn't think it'd be like this [choking up]," Homa said after winning for the first time since 2019.

"Tiger [Woods] another reason I'm into golf. Had good feelings this week. Been playing great. City of champions, you know – [MLB World Series champions] Dodgers, [NBA champions] Lakers and me now, so it's a weird feeling."

Cameron Smith (67) finished three shots off the pace and outright fourth, two strokes ahead of Spanish star Jon Rahm (66), Viktor Hovland (67) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (71).

World number one Dustin Johnson's title charge faded following a one-over-par 62, which left the American tied for eighth and six shots behind the leaders.

Jordan Spieth (71) – still searching for his first victory since 2017 – closed out the Genesis Invitational tied for 15th, alongside the likes of Xander Schauffele (69) and Patrick Cantlay (72).

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (69) and defending champion Adam Scott (66) responded after forgettable third rounds to finish tied for 38th at even par.

Sam Burns was two strokes clear at the top of the leaderboard when the Genesis Invitational third round was suspended due to darkness on Saturday.

Overnight leader Burns completed 13 holes before fading light brought a premature end to the penultimate round at Riviera Country Club in California, where 24 players did not finish their rounds following inclement weather earlier in the day.

The third round will resume at 06:45 (local time) in Pacific Palisades on Sunday.

American golfer Burns carried a five-shot lead into the third round of the PGA Tour tournament.

That advantage reduced to just two strokes after going two over through 13 holes, to be 10 under overall at the time of the suspension.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (through 17) is the nearest challenger, while world number one Dustin Johnson (through 13), Wyndham Clark (through 15) and Max Homa (through 13) are lurking at seven under.

Jordan Spieth – seeking his first title since the 2017 Open Championship, is through 15 and four under as the three-time major winner and former world number one prepares to return early on Sunday morning.

Spanish star Jon Rahm managed to complete his round, carding a one-over-par 72 to be two under through 54 holes, alongside the likes of Xander Schauffele (71).

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is two over following his forgettable third-round 77, while defending champion Adam Scott (through 15) is struggling at four over.

Sam Burns pulled five strokes clear at the halfway mark of the Genesis Invitational, while Dustin Johnson is among the chasing pack.

Burns, 24, carded a five-under 66 in the second round at Riviera Country Club in California to surge clear at 12 under on Friday.

Seeking a first PGA Tour win, Burns – who held a two-shot overnight lead – produced a bogey-free second round that included five birdies.

With his total of 130, Burns tied the 36-hole record at the tournament with three players – Davis Love III (1992), Mike Weir (2004) and Shigeki Maruyama (2004).

Johnson, the 2017 champion, is in a four-way tie for second at seven under after shooting a 67.

The two-time major winner recovered from a bogey at the second hole to post five birdies and sit alongside Tyler McCumber (68), Jason Kokrak (68) and Joaquin Niemann (68).

Jordan Spieth continued his good form with a second straight 68 seeing him at six under and in a tie for sixth.

Coming off back-to-back top-five finishes, Spieth is alongside Max Homa (70) and Wyndham Clark (69), while Alex Noren (70), Scott Harrington (66), Cameron Smith (68), Patrick Cantlay (70) and Matt Fitzpatrick (71) are a shot further back.

Brooks Koepka carded a 70 to be at four under, while Rory McIlroy and 2019 runner-up Justin Thomas both missed the cut.

McIlroy missed the weekend at an event for the first time since the 2019 Open Championship after finishing at seven over.

Jordan Spieth insisted he was as confident as he has been in a long time after another top-five finish on the PGA Tour.

For the first time since 2018, Spieth managed consecutive top-five finishes on the PGA Tour, finishing tied for third at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The three-time major champion held a 54-hole lead but finished three shots adrift of Daniel Berger, a week after being tied for fourth at the Phoenix Open.

Spieth said his confidence was high as his wait for a first win since 2017 continues.

"It's not mental. I'm as confident as I've been in a long time. Not only the current outlook but also looking forward. It's still mechanics," the American told a news conference.

"It's still dragging on. It's still going too long and therefore getting late into the ball and I made some really, really good swings this week under pressure and I made some not so good swings under pressure and there were more good ones than there were last week.

"As I go into next week at arguably my favourite golf course in the world, at Riviera, I look to have more swings that I know are getting into position, hitting the spots I know that I can kind of turn and burn from than I had this week."

Spieth started his 2021 with a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but has rebounded with the two top-five finishes.

The 27-year-old has been somewhat surprised by his performances since that tournament in San Diego.

"If I look back at Friday night of San Diego and you tell me I was going to share the 54 and have the 54-hole lead two weeks in a row and really just fight, finish strong to both weeks, I would have said you're crazy, to be honest," Spieth said.

"I was not in a great head space following that missed cut there and just did some really phenomenal work from Sunday through Wednesday of last week that was probably the best period of a few days of work that I've put in in a long time.

"It just got me believing in what I was doing and progressing forward. That's really what I continue to say is just progressing forward and if I put myself in the position of leading after 54 holes enough times, especially with how I know I'm going to fight even if it's not going my way, I'll end up on top one of these days."

Daniel Berger secured his fourth PGA Tour win with a two-stroke victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as Jordan Spieth's wait goes on.

Berger carded a brilliant seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday to claim his first win of 2021.

The American holed a 31-foot eagle putt at the final hole to finish at 18 under.

Berger earlier had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey before delivering the key putt at the last, ending up clear of Maverick McNealy (66).

Winless since 2017, Spieth took a two-stroke lead into the final round but could only shoot a two-under 70.

The three-time major champion mixed five birdies with three bogeys to finish at 15 under and tied for third alongside Patrick Cantlay (68).

After finishing tied for fourth at the Phoenix Open last week, Spieth has consecutive top-five finishes on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2018.

Paul Casey (68) and Nate Lashley (69) finished at 14 under, the latter four-putting for a triple bogey on 16.

Charley Hoffman (66), Cameron Tringale (67), Max Homa (68), Jason Day (69) and Russell Knox (70) were a stroke further back at 13 under.

Jordan Spieth is on track to end his wait for a title after claiming a two-stroke lead at the end of the third round at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Spieth has not tasted success since the 2017 Open Championship, but the former world number one threatened to end his drought at last week's Phoenix Open, where he finished tied for fourth.

But Spieth is back at the top of the leaderboard in California – the resurgent American star two shots clear through 54 holes thanks to Saturday's one-under-par 71.

Spieth – winner of the event in 2017 – is the first player since Dustin Johnson last year to hold 54-hole lead/co-lead in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour.

Playing the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spieth holed out from 160 yards for eagle on the 16th hole as the three-time major champion extended his lead.

"In the air I thought it was going to be really good, and as it landed it was just exactly where I was trying to hit it, certainly a bonus for it to drop," Spieth said.

Spieth, who fell two strokes off the pace during the round, finished with an eagle, three birdies and four bogeys to be 13 under overall.

Nate Lashley (68), Tom Hoge (68), Russell Knox (69), Patrick Cantlay (70) and Daniel Berger (72) are Spieth's nearest challengers.

Another former world number one, Jason Day, is among four players three strokes back following his third-round 68.

Jordan Spieth continued his good recent form as a fast finish helped him into the lead at the halfway mark of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Spieth, who finished tied for fourth at the Phoenix Open last week, carded a five-under 67 on Spyglass Hill Golf Course in California on Friday.

The American started his second round on the back nine before four birdies on his final six holes lifted him into 12 under.

Spieth is winless since 2017, but the three-time major champion seems to be recapturing some form, with his 36-hole score of 132 his lowest on the PGA Tour since the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge.

The 2017 champion sits a shot ahead of Daniel Berger, who fired a six-under 66 on Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Henrik Norlander is at outright third at 10 under after shooting a 70 on Spyglass Hill.

Overnight leader Patrick Cantlay (73) slipped back into a tie for fourth alongside Tom Lewis (69) and Paul Casey (67), while Russell Knox (70) is at eight under.

Jason Day, runner-up in 2018, carded another 69 to be at six under, a shot behind Brian Stuard (71), Maverick McNealy (69), Cameron Percy (70), Nate Lashley (72), Tom Hoge (70) and Akshay Bhatia (73).

Day has endured a difficult start to the year, missing the cut in his two events to begin 2021.

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