Tommy Fleetwood shares lead at Players Championship after opening round at Sawgrass

“It’s a good time to be coming into form. It’s been different this year because I’ve been used to starting so fast but I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of good things and sometimes you just need a rhythm of shooting good scores and that seems like it’s coming.”

McIlroy has no doubt Fleetwood will taste victory in the United States sooner rather than later, adding: “He is one of the best players in the world, and he’s had his chances already. So, yes, I think it’s only a matter of time for sure.”

McIlroy was frustrated not to birdie the par-five ninth, his final hole, after his approach hit a sprinkler head and flew over the green into the crowd, but he was happy to find that the change in date from May to March meant the conditions were more conducive to aggressive play.

“Over the last 10 years it’s been irons off tees and really trying to plot your way around the golf course, I hit drivers on holes today where I would never have the last few years,” McIlroy, who has finished in the top six in all five starts in 2019, told reporters.

“Even when you are aggressive and you miss, it’s a touch easier to get yourself back into position. The rough isn’t as long or as gnarly and when you miss the greens you are not having to contend with that Bermuda (grass) and guess how it’s going to come out.”

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