Defending champion Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson managed to shoot bogey-free rounds on Saturday at The Players Championship, despite heavy winds.

The duo became the 36-hole clubhouse leaders at three under, but Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge remained at the top of the leaderboard.

Fleetwood only played three holes of his second round on Saturday while Hoge did not even start his before bad light suspended the day's action again.

Stormy weather in the Florida region in the past few days lead to many competitors only finishing their openings rounds on Saturday.

Further weather disruption meant play did not start until midday local time, with 47 players finally completing their opening rounds in the first two hours.

Fleetwood remained at six over par after recording a birdie and a bogey in his three holes, level with Hoge and one shot ahead of Joaquin Niemann, Keith Mitchell and Anirban Lahiri, all tied for third at five under.

Thomas, who won last year's event, carded a three-under 69 to move up to joint-15th place after an even par 72 in his first round, while Watson played himself back into contention with the best second-round score so far of 68 to match Thomas overall on three under.

Dustin Johnson shot 73 in his second round to move to two under, tied for 23rd, while last year's runner-up Lee Westwood will miss the cut after a dismal round of 80 saw him nine over after two rounds.

Brooks Koepka had an even worse day, carding 81 to also sit at nine over, while Rory McIlroy was able to finally complete his first round for 73, before going back out and hitting the same score again, including a double-bogey at the seventh, to leave himself two over.

The par-three 17th was proving particularly tricky in the high winds, with 29 balls finding the water on Saturday, while just four had suffered the same fate in the previous two days. McIlroy said afterwards: "Basically, the green's a big massive dartboard, and you're like, just hit it anywhere on there."

Weather permitting, play is due to resume at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday at 8:15am local time.

The Players Championship could drag into Tuesday due to bad weather at TPC Sawgrass, tournament chief referee Gary Young has said.

Five hours of play was lost on day one on Thursday and the 49th edition of the competition in Florida was further disrupted on Friday.

Play was initially suspended at 11:15 local time before round one could be completed, with confirmation following that it would not resume until at least 11:00 on Saturday.

A Monday finish now seems a likely outcome, though the event may yet stretch into a sixth day. 

"The potential is there. The potential, but let's hope not," Young said at a news conference.

"I think everything that we're looking at, we feel very confident that we can finish this tournament by Monday."

More thunderstorms, rain and strong wind is forecast for Saturday, forcing tournament officials to put contingency plans in place.

"We're going to make some adjustments to prepare for that overnight," Young added.

"The superintendent and his crew are going to need proper time to pick up debris, get the golf course back in condition. So there's a lot of variables involved. 

"I'm talking a little bit about scenarios down the road, but I want to be careful about too many expectations.

"It is highly, highly unusual to have this [weather] pattern for this prolonged period at this time of the year, looking back at the historical data on it. It's just bad luck."

Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge lead at six under par after finishing their rounds as scheduled on Thursday.

Brice Garnett also reached six under with five holes to complete once play resumes.

The likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are among those yet to complete their first rounds.

Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge shared the lead at the end of Thursday at The Players Championship, but the pair had not yet seen all of their challengers in action.

Dismal weather in Florida pushed back the start to the opening round and then further delays followed, with heavy rainfall and storms in the area hampering the tournament.

Fleetwood and Hoge were the players best able to negotiate the tricky conditions, although others were yet to start at the close of play.

Big names including Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson were still early in their rounds when play was suspended due to darkness.

Fleetwood, who missed the cut last year after top-10 finishes at The Players in 2018 and 2019, started a little slowly on the back nine but found his rhythm at the turn.

Seven birdies and a bogey saw the Englishman card a six-under 66, which was matched by Hoge – who also started on the back nine – after his eagle at the par-five second.

"For sure, that was the most I could have got out of the round," Fleetwood said. "So, days like that are very, very pleasing."

It could still have been a three-way tie at the top, with Saudi International champion Harold Varner III denied at least a share of the lead by a late-round collapse.

After seven birdies through 16 holes, including five on the back nine, Varner became the first player to find the water at the 17th and signed for a triple-bogey.

That was followed by a bogey at the last that left him three adrift of Fleetwood and Hoge.

"That's what you get a lot out here," Varner said. "Either you get it done or you don't."

The United States claimed the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as they defeated Europe by a record margin with a 19-9 triumph on Sunday.

Padraig Harrington's side had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day.

USA required just 3.5 points to claim the trophy on home soil, and they managed to reach that mark in just the fifth match of the finale as Collin Morikawa finished all square with Victor Hovland.

Europe had early hope through Rory McIlroy, who cruised past Xander Schaffuele to collect his first win at this year's edition but Patrick Cantlay quickly restored USA's dominance by defeating Shane Lowry.

Fellow rookie Scottie Scheffler enjoyed a magnificent singles debut, overcoming world number one Jon Rahm, before Bryson DeChambeau crushed Sergio Garcia with two holes to spare.

Morikawa and Hovland were neck-and-neck until the penultimate hole, where the former landed his iron shot within tap-in range to secure at least a half point and the trophy for the USA. Hovland won the last to halve their battle, but the Americans had the overall match in the bag.

Paul Casey chased Dustin Johnson but could not stop the two-time major champion from winning on the final hole to complete a 5-0-0 record, while Brooks Koepka eased past debutant Bernd Wiesberger despite a spirited performance from the Austrian.

Justin Thomas produced a dominant performance to demolish Tyrrell Hatton, while Lee Westwood - making his record 47th match appearance for Europe - picked up a consolation point against Harris English.

Ian Poulter also maintained his unbeaten record in singles matches to collect Europe's second win on the day, but that proved in vain, with Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood sharing the spoils as they both faltered on the 18th.

However, in the final pair, Daniel Berger edged past Matthew Fitzpatrick, who found the water at the last, as the USA defeated Europe by a record margin, surpassing the previous 18.5 to 9.5 win at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

 

Shot of the day

Team USA were looking for a positive start to quash any suggestions of another repeat of the 'Miracle at Medinah' and DeChambeau provided exactly that in the fourth match of the day.

He comfortably reached the green with his drive on the par-four first, much to the delight of the Wisconsin crowd surrounding the tee box.

The world number seven could have claimed the 'shot of the day' tag with his drive, however, the subsequent 41-foot putt that followed to secure an eagle was both magnificent and important to place early pressure on the evergreen Garcia.

Player of the day

Scheffler, who was a Ryder Cup rookie and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, was sent out early and tasked with tackling world number one Rahm.

The American's rapid start, recording five birdies in the opening six holes, was enough to see off Rahm, who could not fight back from that point onwards and was finished off with three holes to go.

Sunday's singles win made it 2.5 points from a possible three, Scheffler unbeaten in the four-balls in a memorable debut in the Ryder Cup.

Chipping in

USA's winning captain Steve Stricker: "Speechless. Everything about it, these guys all came together. Two weeks ago they came together. Showed me a lot about this group of guys. They had a mission this week and you could tell, they played great and they came together. I just can't tell you - I mean, Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together; that's how much it came together. That shows a lot about this whole team."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington: "Of course we're disappointed. But the USA played well. Look, they out-played us, they are a strong team. They got their plan right. They got some momentum going. They started well. It's been good, no doubt about it. The fans were better - it's tough when you're going away and having no Europeans, but certainly above expectations in terms of an away crowd."

Rory McIlroy (on NBC): "I don't think there's any greater privilege to be a part of one of these teams, European or American. It's an absolute privilege. I've gotten to do this six times. They have always been the greatest experiences of my career. But this team, and what it feels like to be a part of, to see Sergio [Garcia] break records, to see Jon Rahm come into his own this week, to see one of my best friends, Shane Lowry, make his Ryder Cup debut. The more I play in this event I realise it's the best event in golf, bar none."

A little birdie told me...

Johnson entered this year's tournament with a 7-9 record in four previous appearances.

However, he made Ryder Cup history as he went 5-0-0, becoming just the fifth player to do so in a single Ryder Cup and the third since battles between Europe and the USA began in 1979. Previous matches saw teams from Great Britain, and Great Britain and Ireland, take on the Americans.

Johnson knew victory against Casey would see him etch his name in history, and he duly confirmed victory on the final hole, with the Englishman dragging his potential levelling putt wide.

Sunday's single results

Rory McIlroy (Eur) beat Xander Schauffele (USA) 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay (USA) beat Shane Lowry (Eur) 4 and 2

Scottie Scheffler (USA) beat Jon Rahm (Eur) 4 and 3

Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Sergio Garcia (Eur) 3 and 2

Collin Morikawa (USA) tied Victor Hovland (Eur) A/S

Dustin Johnson (USA) beat Paul Casey (Eur) 1UP

Brooks Koepka (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 and 1

Ian Poulter (Eur) beat Tony Finau (USA) 3 and 2

Justin Thomas (USA) beat Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 4 and 3

Lee Westwood (Eur) beat Harris English (USA) 1UP

Jordan Spieth (USA) tied Tommy Fleetwood (Eur) A/S

Daniel Berger (USA) beat Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eur) 1UP

The 12 singles pairings for the final round of the Ryder Cup have been announced, with the United States looking to dethrone Europe on Sunday.

Team USA hold a commanding 11-5 lead following Saturday's foursomes and four-ball at Whistling Straits, where the hosts boast the biggest two-day advantage since 1975.

Steve Stricker's USA require just 3.5 points to reclaim the cup from Europe, who will need to produce the biggest ever comeback if they are to claim the required nine points to defend their crown.

"That was an important one," Stricker said after USA split the four afternoon matches. "If they blank us, they're right back in the game. I think getting two points and splitting the session is a good outcome for us."

Xander Schauffele will lead the Americans out to start Sunday's play in Wisconsin, facing struggling European star Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was dropped for Saturday's foursomes having struggled on Friday – the first time in the four-time major champion's Ryder Cup career that he has missed a session. He returned for the four-ball but fell to another defeat alongside Ian Poulter against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa 4 and 3.

The second matchup pits USA's Patrick Cantlay against Shane Lowry, while Europe captain Padraig Harrington put world number one Jon Rahm down to face Scottie Scheffler.

Bryson DeChambeau and European star Sergio Garcia meet in match four, American Collin Morikawa tackles Viktor Hovland and unbeaten USA veteran Johnson plays Paul Casey.

Elsewhere, Brooks Koepka is set to tee off against Bernd Wiesberger, Poulter and Tony Finau go head-to-head, Justin Thomas will clash with Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood goes up against Harris English, Jordan Spieth faces Tommy Fleetwood and the final matchup is a showdown between Daniel Berger and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The United States continued their dominance on day two of the Ryder Cup, the hosts closing in on the trophy after taking a commanding 11-5 lead over defending champions Europe.

Europe, who have won seven of the past nine editions of the showpiece biennial competition, split Saturday afternoon's four-ball session but face an uphill task to retain their crown in Wisconsin this weekend.

USA – enjoying the biggest two-day lead since 1975 – require 14.5 points to dethrone Team Europe and clinch the cup on home soil at Whistling Straits on Sunday.

Europe gave themselves some hope by winning the opening two matches of the afternoon's four-ball – world number one Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia topping Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth as Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton battled past Tony Finau and Harris English.

But the Americans claimed the final two matches of the day to preserve their six-shot cushion thanks to Dustin Johnson-Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler-Bryson DeChambeau.

Rory McIlroy was benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, sitting out the morning foursomes. The four-time major champion returned in the afternoon but he was unable to snap his winless run at this year's tournament, tasting defeat in his pairing with Ian Poulter versus Johnson and Morikawa.

Earlier, in the foursomes, Steve Stricker's red-hot USA were dominant once again.  

Spieth and Justin Thomas took four of the last five holes to beat the rookie duo of Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger, while Johnson and Morikawa edged past Paul Casey and Hatton.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay won for the second consecutive day, claiming holes nine, 10 and 11 to take control as they overcame Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Spanish pair Rahm and Garcia got Europe's solitary point, as they came from behind to see off Koepka and Daniel Berger despite initially going three holes down. 

 

Shot of the day

Casey ended up on the losing side in his foursomes match alongside Hatton, but he can at least reflect on a remarkable shot at the par-four 14th hole.

Hatton's drive had found the left-hand rough just short of the bunker, leaving Casey with a blind wedge shot onto the green.

Not only did he get it onto the dancefloor, but the Englishman rolled it into the cup to win the hole in style.

Player of the day

The oldest player on the Team USA roster, Johnson has led by example throughout this week. The 37-year-old is yet to taste defeat at Whistling Straits, having swept the foursomes and four-ball alongside Morikawa on Saturday. Johnson did not drop a shot in the final matchup against Poulter and McIlroy, while he and Morikawa also enjoyed a flawless display in the win over Casey and Hatton.

Chipping in

Despite a record-breaking day personally, former Masters champion Garcia told reporters: "It's great but it's not. We need more wins and unfortunately we are not getting them at the moment. I didn't even know. Steve Sands told me on the 17th hole. I didn't know the record and I didn't care. Obviously Jon and I, we did what we had to and what we could, and unfortunately it just looks like the American guys are just playing a little bit better than us, and it's a shame."

USA captain Steve Stricker said: "This team is deep. They are so good and they have had great couple of years to make this team. Everybody came in ready and prepared. They are hitting it well. They came here all on board a couple weeks ago for the final round and they put the time and effort and energy into it."

On the home-field advantage, Dustin Johnson added: "It definitely helps. It kind of keeps you going. It gets you fired up, especially right at the start. But the fans have been great this week. I felt like they have been really respectful to both sides. But obviously we have got definitely a home-field advantage here."

A little birdie told me...

Garcia was in record-breaking form in his foursomes showdown, becoming the player to win the most matches in Ryder Cup history.

The 41-year-old, who made his competition debut in 1999, claimed his 24th victory earlier in the day, moving clear of Nick Faldo's previous record.

Saturday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 2 and 1
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) beat Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 up
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Eur) 2 and 1

Saturday's four-ball results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth (USA) 2 and 1
Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) beat Tony Finau and Harris English (USA) 1 up
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland (Eur) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy (Eur) 4 and 3

Ryder Cup team captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington have confirmed their selections for Saturday's four-ball session at Whistling Straits.

Europe have their work cut out to retain the title as they lost the day's foursomes 3-1 to trail the United States 9-3 in Wisconsin.

The pressure will therefore be on Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton to get a point on the board when they face Tony Finau and Harris English in the first four-ball match.

That is followed by Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia teaming up for a third time to take on Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, while Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau meet Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland in match three.

The final match of the session will involve Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa for the USA, with Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy their opponents.

Poulter and McIlroy were well beaten by Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay in Friday's foursomes, but Harrington is showing faith in the pair.

Johnson and Morikawa were successful against Hatton and Paul Casey earlier on Saturday in the foursomes, meanwhile, as they prevailed to hold off a European fightback.

"Dustin and Collin are great players, and again they played great golf – opening up with three birdies," Casey told Sky Sports. "But I'm very proud of how we fought. 

"I think Tyrrell was probably a little bit disappointed. I hit a couple of poor shots. I think Tyrrell felt like he hit a couple of poor shots. But what a fight. 

"Tyrrell is such a gritty little player and he's a key part of our team, and I would team up any time with that guy.

"You know, there was one stage we didn't think we would get them as far as we did, and then I guess we had a chance to take them all the way and make it a great battle. 

"But you tip your cap to Collin and Dustin. There's a reason why they are as good as they are, and they are clearly very, very difficult to beat."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler and Victor Perez are all vying for a spot in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play final after a day of upsets in Austin.

Stars Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia surprisingly crashed out in the quarter-finals as the underdogs ruled on Saturday.

The unpredictable tournament continued on the weekend after world number one Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed were unable to advance beyond the group stage.

Spanish third seed Rahm topped Erik van Rooyen 3 and 2 in the last 16 before being upstaged by Scheffler 3 and 1 in the quarter-finals at the Austin Country Club.

"I felt like I played some really good golf," said Scheffler, who will meet Kuchar in an all-American clash for a spot in Sunday's decider. "I think I kept things bogey-free and I got some early leads and made sure that I kept the pressure on those guys and made them feel like they had to do something special to beat me, which they weren't able to do."

Fleetwood – the 21st seed – succumbed to Horschel after 19 holes, while former Masters champion Garcia was beaten by 31st seed Victor Perez 4 and 3.

American golfer Horschel and France's Perez will do battle in the semis.

Englishman Fleetwood was sent packing after hitting a hole-in-one during his last-16 victory – a drive out of bounds at the 12th seeding him come unstuck in the quarters.

It was a big day for 2013 champion Kuchar, who eliminated former world number one Jordan Spieth 1up before defeating Brian Harman 2 and 1.

Kuchar – the 52nd seed – was runner-up in 2019, with last year's event cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Certainly golf's a funny game and I think there are times as a professional where you can feel so far away, you think, golly, I don't have it," Kuchar said.

"I'm racking my brain trying to find it, but then you plug in the right ingredient, the right key, and then all of a sudden it snaps back, and thankfully it's been working and I'm seeing progression. It's just finally now it's clicked and it's a lot more fun this way, I assure you."

Tyrell Hatton produced a magnificent final round of 66 to win the Abu Dhabi Championship by four shots on Sunday.

Hatton started the day a stroke adrift of Rory McIlroy, but finished in dominant fashion to secure his fourth Rolex Series title.

The Englishman made a dream start to the 2021 Race to Dubai, closing with a six-under round to end the week well clear on 18 under.

Jason Scrivener matched world number nine Hatton in posting a 66 thanks to an impressive back nine, seeing him finish in second place, a shot ahead of McIlroy.

Hatton's triumph ensured he equalled Jon Rahm's record of Rolex Series successes, having also won the 2017 Italian Open, 2019 Turkish Airlines Open and 2020 BMW PGA Championship.

He made three birdies on the front nine and as many after the turn to seal a sixth European Tour victory at a canter.

McIlroy finished on 13 after signing for a level-par 72, with four bogeys frustrating the Northern Irishman after two gains from his first three holes.

Scrivener went out in 37, but got on a roll after the turn, sparked by an eagle-three at the 10th, followed by five birdies.

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello took fourth place on 12 under, while Tommy Fleetwood dropped back into a share of seventh on 10 under.

David Lipsky and Marc Warren were unable to finish with a flourish, both carding rounds of 71 to finish joint-fifth.

Rory McIlroy knows he must earn the right to end his wait for glory at the Abu Dhabi Championship after setting up what could be a thrilling final day.

The four-time major winner stormed back into the lead of the tournament on day three to set up a finale that will see him duel with Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for glory.

McIlroy was five shots behind Hatton overnight but after a strong finish to his delayed second round and a five-under 67 in round three, he now leads by one.

He sits on 13 under for the tournament, closely followed by Hatton at 12 under, while Fleetwood – a two-time winner at the event – is a further shot behind.

McIlroy has won a host of titles in his glittering career, but is yet to triumph in a Rolex Series event.

Having impressively been runner-up in Abu Dhabi four times and also come third on three occasions, he was asked ahead of Sunday's battle whether his time had come.

"I can't go into the day thinking it is my turn," said world number six McIlroy, who had an eagle on the 10th and five birdies.

"I want to make it my turn. I have to go out there and continue to hit the ball like I hit it on the back nine.

"If I can do that and give myself plenty of chances, I will have a really good chance.

"It's so blustery - a different type of golf than we're used to playing in Abu Dhabi. Usually not much wind and you have a chance on every hole but there is a little more scrambling involved and longer putts.

"So I thought I did well. Obviously had that big stroke of luck on 10, the ball hitting the pin and going in. 

"Apart from that, I played well. I drove it much better on the back nine and I hit it much better on the back nine, so I was really encouraged about that."

Hatton was in control of the tournament overnight but now faces a Sunday scrap, though he is relishing the challenge.

"It's pretty cool group to be a part of," said Hatton, who is eyeing a fourth Rolex Series win. 

"I'm sure the standard of golf will be pretty good and I'm hoping that I can play well and give myself a chance to win.

"You're always going to have days like that and you just try and get through it and the good thing is that I'm still in contention going into the final round. 

"Obviously one shot back which isn't ideal but a lot can happen in 18 holes. Hopefully things go my way."

Fleetwood produced consecutive rounds of 67 to move into contention after starting with a 71.

"I played well and solid," he said. "Really good round of golf and just happy to be in contention again."

Rory McIlroy stormed back into the lead of the Abu Dhabi Championship to set up a thrilling final day that will see him duel with Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for glory.

Three of golf's leading names occupy the top three spots on the leaderboard after a dramatic Saturday at the Rolex Series event.

A 67 from McIlroy moved him to 13 under par for the tournament, one shot clear of Hatton, who dropped back after thriving in round two.

Fleetwood also registered a five-under 67 and sits in striking distance at 11 under.

Marc Warren and David Lipsky are in the hunt at 10 under, while Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-9) will hope a fast start can see him move into contention.

Hatton entered day three in control of the tournament, acknowledging himself he was in "a great position".

But after bad light caused a suspension of play on day two, the first task was to complete the second round, and Hatton's momentum stalled.

He was one over in completing his last five holes while two birdies from McIlroy moved him closer to the Englishman, three shots behind at the start of round three.

It did not get much better for Hatton, who eventually had to settle for a 71, comfortably his worst score of the week.

But he remains right behind world number six McIlroy, who had an eagle and five birdies in a magnificent third round, with bogeys on seven and 13 his only setbacks.

Fleetwood was one of the fortunate players who had completed his round on day two, and he had six birdies on Saturday, picking up a crucial one at 18 to move himself closer to the leaders.

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this month, missed the cut. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was halted on Friday, but a miserable double-bogey on 18 ended his hopes.

A poor 75 from defending champion Lee Westwood in round three left him out of the running.

Leader McIlroy has enjoyed a remarkable career but victory on Sunday would be the first time he has triumphed in a Rolex Series event.

Despite not winning it, he has an impressive record at this tournament, having been runner-up four times and coming third on three occasions.

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