Tommy Fleetwood of England leaned on a torrid start on Friday to retain the lead in the Players Championship, though a torrid finish by a fellow Brit meant he had to share it.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland eagled the 16th hole and birdied the 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and shot a seven-under 65 to climb to 12 under par to equal Fleetwood's 36-hole total.

Fleetwood, who is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, began his second round birdie-eagle-birdie en route to a 67.

“I had a great range session warming up, and all you want to do then is make sure you take that out onto the course,” Fleetwood said. “I had the absolute dream start. Even then I felt very calm, felt really good. Today was a little bit more up and down, but it's going to be. You know, there was a lot of good stuff, and I just feel really happy with it.”

McIlroy’s round was a continuation of the exceptional golf he has strung together this year, though without producing a victory. In five previous starts in 2019, he has finished no worse than a tie for sixth, that coming last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"Just another good day on the course," McIlroy said. "I did everything pretty much the way I wanted to, and yeah, look, I'm really happy with the way everything is. My attitude has been great all year, and that's the one thing I've been trying to focus on the most."

Jim Furyk, meanwhile, is tied for third, three off the lead, based on his posting the best round of the day, a bogey-free eight-under 64. Furyk, 48, a local resident, has not won in four years.

Also three back are Ian Poulter, Brian Harman and Abraham Ancer of Mexico.

Tiger Woods hit two balls in the water at the par-3 17th, made a quadruple-bogey 7, yet still shot a one-under-par 71. He is nine shots off the lead.

(www.golfdigest.com)