Rory McIlroy believes this year's Ryder Cup will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 43rd meeting between Europe and the United States is due to begin in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

The PGA Tour is currently suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, though the plan is for events to resume in mid-June, initially without fans in attendance.

However, world number one McIlroy is against the idea of staging the traditionally raucous Ryder Cup without fans present, which is why he is expecting the authorities to push back the tournament a year.

"My personal hunch is that I don't see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen," the Northern Irishman told BBC Sport.

"I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special.

"The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don't want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.

"I see it being pushed back until 2021 and, honestly, I think that will be the right call."

McIlroy is now based in the United States and expects to play the first three PGA Tour events when the season resumes.

Though The Open was cancelled entirely this year, McIlroy would have no qualms about returning to Europe to play in some of the more prestigious events.

"It's a tough one. There are a lot of things up in the air, but if there are some big events in autumn time, then I can," he added.

"Maybe if Wentworth gets moved to October, which they are thinking of, then I could see myself going over and playing that event.

"I was just as disappointed as everyone else that The Open got cancelled this year. I think it would have been a good date in September if we were able to play it.

"I wouldn't have concerns about travelling to Europe. I think if you stick to the guidelines then I don't see any reason why we should feel scared to travel."

Donald Trump responded to Rory McIlroy's vow never to play golf with the United States president again, saying a lot of golfers "like my politics very much and some don't, I guess".

World number one McIlroy last week criticised Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, accusing him of trying to "politicise" the crisis.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

McIlroy drew criticism for playing a round with Trump in 2017 at his International Golf Club in Florida but said he would not do so again in the future.

Trump, phoning in to NBC's coverage of a charity TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match that saw McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, had his say on the comments.

"A lot of them [golfers] are very political, actually. A lot of them like my politics very much and some don't, I guess," he said.

"The ones that don't I don't get to see as much."

There have been 1,527,951 confirmed cases of coronavirus in America, with 90,980 having died after testing positive.

World number one Rory McIlroy was glad to be back in action, albeit in a charity match alongside Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy and Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match, raising more than $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

But McIlroy was simply happy to be back playing, with the PGA Tour season set to restart next month.

"It was good, it was nice to feel it again. It's only been nine weeks since The Players [Championship], it feels much longer than that," the Northern Irishman said, via the PGA Tour.

"Obviously we just went through a very unprecedented time. We're used to feeling like that week in and week out, so to be at home for these few weeks and not feel that, it was nice to get back out here.

"It's a different setting than what we're used to, but to get the competitive juices going again, it was nice to feel it."

McIlroy has announced he plans to play the first three tournaments back, beginning with the Charles Schwab Challenge starting June 11.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match as live golf made its return to TV, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

Golf has been on hiatus since the PGA and European Tours were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, though the plan is for the season to restart in June.

In the meantime, McIlroy/Johnson and Fowler/Wolff went head-to-head all in the name of charity in Florida on Sunday.

No caddies were allowed at the historic Seminole Golf Club, where all players carried their own bags in the behind-closed-doors event.

A play-off was needed after 18 holes, with $1.1m unclaimed heading into the sudden death closest-to-the-pin challenge.

McIlroy secured the remaining money with a wedge at the 17th, pushing the world number one and Johnson to $1.85m and past Fowler/Wolff's $1.15m.

The American Nurses Foundation benefited from McIlroy and Johnson, while Fowler and Wolff played for the CDC Foundation.

The season is set to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on June 11-14.

Rory McIlroy has criticised president Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

World number one McIlroy accused Trump of trying to "politicise" the crisis, with 1,460,989 confirmed cases in America and 87,025 people having died after receiving a positive test for coronavirus. 

McIlroy previously defended his decision to play golf with the controversial president in 2017 at his International Golf Club in Florida.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

Speaking about his previous round with Trump, McIlroy said it was an experience he enjoyed but not one he expects to have again.

"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said," he continued.

"I know it's very self-serving of me to say 'no' and, if I don't, then it means then I'm not putting myself in position to be put under scrutiny and that I'm avoiding that. But I probably wouldn't, no.

"The day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable. He is very charismatic and was nice to everyone. He obviously has something, or he wouldn't be in the White House.

"That doesn't mean I agree with everything - or, in fact, anything - that he says."

 

 

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson are to team up to take on Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a $3million charity skins event, which will mark the return of televised golf.

The TaylorMade Driving Relief is to take place at the Seminole Golf Club in Florida and will raise money for the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation.

A further $1m for a birdies-and-eagles pool has been pledged by Farmers Insurance to benefit Off Their Plate, which aids COVID-19 healthcare workers.

The exhibition will be the first televised golf since the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020 season to a halt at the Players Championship in March.

A PGA Tour statement added: "The competition will follow strict CDC social distancing guidelines, local mandates and will utilise appropriate testing measures to help protect the health and safety of the golfers, production crew and others on site”. No spectators will be allowed to attend.

"It's been difficult to witness what so many are enduring over the last several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic," McIlroy said in a statement published on golfchannel.com. 

"I hope that we can provide some respite and entertainment for those tuning in across the globe. 

"Dustin and I will have a lot of fun together and our games will fit well as we push to raise funds and awareness on May 17."

McIlroy and Johnson will represent the American Nurses Foundation, while Fowler and Wolff are to play for the CDC Foundation.

The PGA Tour is scheduled to return with the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Texas in the second week of June without fans in attendance.

Rory McIlroy was in flying form before the coronavirus pandemic brought the PGA and European Tours to a halt.

Since missing the cut at his home Open Championship at Royal Portrush, McIlroy recorded an astonishing 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts, including victories at the Tour Championship and HSBC Champions.

That form saw McIlroy once again ascend to the summit of the world rankings and the four-time major winner will have been as frustrated as anyone to see the season suspended due to the global health crisis.

McIlroy turned 31 on Monday and now seems as good a time as any to reflect on his career achievements, and some goals to work towards in the future.

RECORD-BREAKING MAJOR WINS

Major season started in heart-breaking fashion for McIlroy in 2011 as an infamous final-round meltdown at the Masters saw him squander a four-shot lead to finish in a tie for 15th. In a show of his strength of character, McIlroy bounced back in remarkable fashion two months later to win a first major at the U.S. Open at Congressional. His eight-shot triumph was the biggest margin of victory in the tournament's history, while his 16 under was a record for strokes under par (a feat then matched by Brooks Koepka in 2017). A little over a year later, McIlroy was setting more benchmarks at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. An eight-shot victory bested Jack Nicklaus' previous mark of seven.

DOUBLING UP IN GLORIOUS 2014

The following six majors proved frustrating for McIlroy. However, a first Claret Jug arrived in style with a wire-to-wire victory at the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool – a two-shot triumph a little skewed by so many of the chasing pack making the most of placid Sunday conditions. A month later, McIlroy showed impressed nerve as a partisan crowd roared on the charges of Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler to win a second PGA Championship by one shot at Valhalla. In doing so, McIlroy became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win three straight starts on the PGA Tour.

PRIZES GALORE ON PGA AND EUROPEAN TOUR

McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success besides majors, of course. He has 27 professional career victories to his name, including at the Players Championship, three World Golf Championships events and five in FedEx Cup playoff tournaments. He has won the European Tour's prestigious Race to Dubai three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and also become FedEx Cup champion on the PGA Tour twice (2016 and 2019). Also, on three occasions McIlroy has been named PGA Tour Player of the Year (2012, 2014 and 2019), and European Tour Golfer of the Year (2012, 2014 and 2015).

And here are some objectives for McIlroy to focus on…

FINALLY WIN THE MASTERS

While McIlroy's agonising 80 on that fateful Sunday at the 2011 Masters was tough to watch at the time, it seemed a mere blip in what would be a successful quest to win a green jacket. And yet, eight subsequent visits to Augusta National have failed to yield a win (albeit there were five top-10 finishes between 2014 and 2018). McIlroy has made no secret of his desire to win the Masters and a player with his outrageous talent must surely get one eventually, right? It is the missing piece in a career Grand Slam and winning the Masters will remain McIlroy's main goal.

AVENGE PORTRUSH DISAPPOINTMENT

The 148th Open was a particularly important one for McIlroy, given it was hosted at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, for the first time in 68 years. All eyes were on the local hero who started as pre-tournament favourite, but a nightmare opening round (including a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole, a double-bogey five on the 16th, and a triple-bogey seven on the 18th) saw him sign for an eight-over 79. A second-day fightback saw him recover to two over, yet he still missed the cut by a solitary stroke. An emotional McIlroy admitted "it is going to hurt for a little bit", but – even saving for the postponement of the 2020 Open due to the coronavirus pandemic – McIlroy will have plenty of opportunities to win more Claret Jugs, plus the success of the 2019 tournament at Portrush means he will likely have another shot at glory on home soil in the future.

WIN OLYMPICS GOLD

McIlroy was pretty brutal about golf's return to the Olympics four years ago in Brazil. Speaking prior to the 2016 Open, McIlroy - who like several of his contemporaries opted not to play in Rio due to the threat of the Zika virus - said he would watch "the stuff that matters" at the Games. McIlroy later said he was "glad to be proven somewhat wrong" about the success of golf at the Olympics and a year ago declared his intention to represent Ireland at Tokyo 2020. Of course, the coronavirus has also pushed those Games back to 2021, but going for gold is surely a renewed aim for McIlroy.

Rory McIlroy would prefer the Ryder Cup be postponed until 2021 than played without fans this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whistling Straits is set to host the event in September, just days after the rescheduled U.S. Open.

The PGA Tour is planning to resume without fans in attendance in June as COVID-19 continues to impact sport around the world.

Northern Irishman McIlroy said he would rather the Ryder Cup be postponed until next year than played with no fans present.

"I get the financial implications for everyone involved … but having a Ryder Cup without fans, it's not a Ryder Cup," he said during an Instagram Live with TaylorMade on Tuesday.

"For me, I would much rather them delay it until 2021 to play the Ryder Cup than play it at Whistling Straits without fans.

"That's from a European, going to America, knowing that I'm going to get abuse. Obviously it would be better for Europeans to play without fans because we wouldn't deal with some of the stuff that you have to put up with, but at the same time it's not a Ryder Cup. It wouldn't be a great spectacle, there'd be no atmosphere.

"If it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the Ryder Cup or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it for a year and play it in '21."

The 2022 Ryder Cup is scheduled to be held in Italy, which has been one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 with more than 24,600 deaths.

McIlroy said pushing back this year's event could also give Italy more time to prepare.

"If they do delay it until '21 the next Ryder Cup is supposed to be in Italy and we know how affected Italy was with coronavirus and COVID-19 so it gives that country an extra year to prepare for the Ryder Cup in '23 instead of in '22," he said.

A November Masters brings "pros and cons" for Rory McIlroy in his bid to finally win a green jacket, according to Padraig Harrington.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the PGA and European Tours to a halt and meant the Masters, traditionally golf's curtain-raiser in major season, could not take place over Easter weekend.

Instead, Augusta National is slated to play host in November and McIlroy – who has five top-10 finishes at the Masters and led by four shots heading into the final round in 2011 before a final-day implosion – said this week he believes a change in the schedule could play to his favour.

"I always feel there's this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There's all this hype. I don't think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different but it's something I'm looking forward to," McIlroy told Michelle Wie on an Instagram Live with Nike Golf.

"It's going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that's what I need to get the jacket."

Since missing the cut at his home Open at Royal Portrush last July, McIlroy has recorded an outstanding 12 top-10 finishes from 14 tournaments, including wins at the Tour Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions.

That form saw him return to the summit of the world rankings and Harrington feels that while some of the pressure that always greets McIlroy at Augusta may be reduced by the rescheduling, the halt to his momentum and renewed focus from golf-starved rivals could count against him.

"Yeah, it's possible [a November Masters might benefit McIlroy]," Harrington told Stats Perform. 

"There're pros and cons. He was in tremendous form right now so I'm sure he'd like to go out and play, he was in great form. 

"Like any player you believe the form will stay with you, with Rory it's more than likely. 

"Yes, it would take some of the stress away - it's the last major. There are positive and negatives to it. 

"I think a lot of people will have good attitudes on the golf course by the time it comes to November, they'll be delighted to be out playing golf. 

"His competition could be stronger basically. They won't have overplayed, they'll be fresh, they'll be wanting to be out there, mentally they'll be positive, any opportunity to play golf is a good thing. 

"While Rory might be stronger, I think other people might be stronger too. You'll see some good golf played when we're back out on the golf course because the mental side is such a big thing to it, players will be so relieved to be back out."

Rory McIlroy believes the Masters being rearranged to take place in November could be just what he needs to end his long wait for a green jacket.

The world number one needs a victory at Augusta National to complete a career Grand Slam, having already won the U.S. Open and The Open, plus the US PGA Championship twice.

McIlroy has had five top-10 finishes at the Masters and famously led by four ahead of the final round in 2011, only for a last-day meltdown to end his hopes of glory.

This year's bid to win at Augusta has been held up by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Masters having originally been scheduled to take place over Easter weekend. Instead, the tournament is slated to take place November 12-15, a move McIlroy feels could play in his favour.

Speaking to Michelle Wie on an Instagram Live with Nike Golf, McIlroy said: "The Masters means so much. 

"Obviously it's the last major for me to win but putting that aside, it is such a special place, so many great memories already. Any time you get to play at Augusta is a lot of fun.

"November is going to be different, very cold, the course could play very long. It plays long already but it can play very long. The greens may not be as fast as in April, depending on the moisture.

"I think it will be a different feel, it's at the back end of the year. Two of the majors have already been played, hopefully the Ryder Cup's already been played. People will be in their routine and in the flow a little bit more.

"I always feel there's this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There's all this hype. I don't think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different but it's something I'm looking forward to.

"It's going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that's what I need to get the jacket."

The coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc on the golf calendar, with The Open having been cancelled and the Ryder Cup's status remaining unclear.

As things stand, the Ryder Cup is going ahead. McIlroy said playing in the biennial tournament is an altogether different pressure to the majors.

"You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for your team-mates, you're playing for your country, you're playing for a lot of different people," he added.

"Pressure at the Ryder Cup is different. I think if you look at people who have performed well in Ryder Cups before they went on to win majors, I think it's a good precursor.

"I think for us, that the Ryder Cup is the biggest and most intense atmosphere you can play under. If you can handle that, you can handle being in contention at the majors."

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are "too nice" to engage in the sort of rivalry that once existed between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, says Chris DiMarco.

Back in October, Koepka, winner of four majors between the 2017 U.S. Open and 2019 US PGA Championship and ranked number one in the world, dismissed the notion of McIlroy being one of his nearest challengers for golf's biggest prizes.

"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka said.

McIlroy took a diplomatic approach in his reply, saying Koepka had not said anything out of turn and the pair are good friends.

"I love Brooks, he's a great guy," McIlroy said of the comments."He's obviously super-competitive, like we all are. I can see where he's coming from.

"I think if you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing that it's become. But Brooks and I are good, we're good friends."

McIlroy then recorded seven consecutive finishes inside the top five to return to the summit of the rankings prior to the suspension of the PGA and European Tours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But DiMarco believes there is too much talent in the game now for two players to engage in a genuine rivalry such as the one Woods and Mickelson – where he said there was once a "genuine dislike" – had during the 2000s.

"The problem is both those guys are so nice, like literally to everybody," DiMarco told Stats Perform.

"So, it just seems if there is a rivalry between them it's almost kind of made up. They kind of live in the same area, it's almost like they talked to each other and said, 'let's just kind of jab back and forth with each other and make a rivalry'. They're too nice. 

"There's really in all honesty just too many great players right now. Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson there's too many – Rickie Fowler – for two people to just kind of make themselves higher than anyone else, I don't think it's going to happen anymore. 

"Obviously, Rory and Brooks over the last two years have probably been the best two but Dustin Johnson has been up there, Jon Rahm was looking like he could be number one here with a win a couple of weeks ago.

"There are a lot of hungry players out there and you're never going to see a rivalry kind of like you saw with Tiger and Phil, that's what people wanted to see because there was a genuine dislike for each other. 

"Now they're friendly, so now it's a little bit different, but back then there was a genuine dislike for each other, and they were clearly the number one and number two player in the world for many years so that rivalry you want to see. 

"I think these kids nowadays are just nice, and that's great, I love it, I always played as a nice guy too."

However, DiMarco does feel there is one player who would happily play the role of villain against either McIlroy or Koepka.

"I think the one guy who is probably a disliked guy out there on our Tour or the regular Tour is Patrick Reed," DiMarco added.

"If he ever makes it to number one then there's that guy people would love to hate again, he relishes in that, he loves being in that position, loves it when people give him crap. 

"If you could get a guy like Brooks Koepka – or Rory McIlroy – and Patrick Reed who maintain that level for so long, then you certainly have your true villain in Patrick Reed and your true good guy in one of those other guys."

Few sporting events have been able to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with public gatherings prohibited in many countries across the world.

So, with precious little live sporting events to keep fans entertained, many are looking to the past to satisfy those cravings.

Whether you hark back to specific 'Premier League Years', your favourite World Cups or that time your favourite tennis player lost in the Wimbledon final, nostalgia often has a big part to play in our love of sport.

Below, we picked out five noteworthy events from the world of sport that happened on this day – March 17.

 

1955 – The Richard Riot

Maurice Richard would not have known at the time just how much of an impact his actions on March 13, 1955 would have. A star of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL, Richard struck a linesman during a match and was consequently banned for the rest of the season. Fans insisted it was too harsh, claiming the sanction was motivated by Richard's French-Canadian heritage. NHL president Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens' next match and that sparked a riot, which was not contained to the Montreal Forum stadium. A reported $100,000 worth of damage was done, 37 people were injured and 100 arrests we made. Richard cooled the controversy as he accepted the punishment.

1977 – Australia win Centenary Test

Australia and England played out the Centenary Test on March 17, 1977, marking the 100th anniversary of what is considered to be the first Test cricket match. Starting on March 12 and concluding five days later, Australia won by 45 runs, the exact same margin of victory they recorded 100 years earlier.

1984 – Scotland end Five Nations wait

Scotland enjoyed a momentous day in rugby union on March 17, 1984. A 21-12 win over France at Murrayfield saw them clinch their first outright Five Nations win – and Triple Crown – since 1938, and their first Grand Slam since 1925, with Peter Dods' kicking proving decisive on the day. Scotland have only been the solitary winners of the competition – in either its previous guise or as the Six Nations – twice since.

2012 – Fabrice Muamba collapses in FA Cup match

English football was rocked on March 17, 2012, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a televised FA Cup clash at Tottenham. The former England Under-21 player had suffered a cardiac arrest and it was later revealed his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Two days later, Muamba's heart was beating once again without assistance and he was eventually discharged from hospital on April 16. Although he had to retire early, Muamba has since gone into youth coaching.

2019 – McIlroy wins golf's biggest cash prize

This time last year, Rory McIlroy took home what was at the time the biggest purse in golfing history. At the 2019 Players Championship in Sawgrass, McIlroy carded rounds of 67, 65, 70 and 70 to finish 16 under and edge out Jim Furyk by a shot, clinching a pay cheque of $2.25m – the single biggest monetary prize handed out in golf at that point. However, the $3m Jon Rahm took home for winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later that year set a new benchmark.

Hideki Matsuyama tied a course record to take a two-stroke lead as the opening round of The Players Championship was suspended due to darkness on Thursday.

Matsuyama fired a nine-under 63 to tie the course record at TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The Japanese star mixed an eagle with eight birdies and a bogey during a brilliant opening at the PGA Tour event.

Starting on the back nine, Matsuyama made four straight birdies before dropping a shot at 16, only for another four birdies to follow before an eagle at the par-five ninth.

Of the previous four players to shoot a first-round 63 at the tournament, three have gone on to win – Greg Norman (1994), Martin Kaymer (2014) and Jason Day (2016) – according to the PGA Tour.

Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and 2017 champion Kim Si-woo are tied for second after firing seven-under 65s.

Marc Leishman, coming off a runner-up finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is tied for fifth at five under alongside Patrick Cantlay.

There are 15 players tied for seventh at four under, with Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell and Viktor Hovland among them.

Only four players were unable to complete their rounds, with Bronson Burgoon (one under through 17) the best placed of that group.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy was unable to get going in the opening round, finishing with an even-par 72, while Jordan Spieth battled to a 75 and Rickie Fowler carded a four-over 76.

Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka both opened with 70s, while Justin Thomas managed a 71.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour announced on Thursday the rest of The Players Championship and several other upcoming tournaments will be held without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tyrrell Hatton held his nerve to close out a maiden PGA Tour triumph at the Arnold Palmer Invitational by a single stroke.

Englishman Hatton went into Sunday with a two-shot lead but was taken to the wire by Marc Leishman amid unforgiving conditions at Bay Hill, where there was only one round in the 60s over the course of the weekend.

Rory McIlroy was one of the stars to suffer, as a run of five over in the space of five holes effectively ended his challenge before finishing tied for fifth with a four-over 76.

Hatton opened with a bogey but reached the turn three ahead thanks to back-to-back birdies.

He found water at 11, where a double bogey put his bid for glory back in the balance and he headed to the last one ahead of Australia's Leishman.

It was an advantage the 28-year-old managed to retain, carding 74 to finish four under for the tournament.

"It's hard to explain. It's just an incredible feeling," Hatton told the Golf Channel after his win.

"It was such a tough day today, actually felt like I was kind of playing myself out of it a little bit when I made double on 11. When I saw the scoreboard on I think it was the 14th green I realised I had I think it was a one- or two-shot lead at the time and I was a little bit surprised.

"But to hold on and win here at such an iconic venue, I'm just over the moon."

South Korea's Im Sung-jae finished third at two under, with Bryson DeChambeau fourth on one under overall.

Tyrrell Hatton opened up a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational as players struggled in difficult conditions on Saturday.

The Englishman is on track for his first PGA Tour win, sitting at six under despite his one-over 73.

Hatton is two shots clear of Marc Leishman (72) and Rory McIlroy (73) after a tough third round at Bay Hill.

Having held a share of the overnight lead, Hatton mixed four birdies with three bogeys and a double bogey, but it was enough to sit top of the leaderboard.

Leishman and McIlroy were solid, making 14 and 15 pars respectively during their rounds, and are in contention.

Such were the challenging conditions, Max Homa was the only player to shoot a round under par with his 70, although he is back in a tie for 16th at one over.

South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout (73), South Korean Im Sung-jae (74), New Zealander Danny Lee (75) and American Harris English (74) are tied for fourth at three under.

Sung Kang, who shared the overnight lead with Hatton, battled to a six-over 78 that left him outright eighth at one under.

The South Korean was even through 10 before producing two triple bogeys – at 11 and 18 – including finding the water twice at the former.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka carded a nine-over 81 that included eight bogeys and a double as he dropped to a tie for 64th at 10 over.

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