The world of golf is ever-changing, but the last year has arguably transformed the sport.

LIV Golf's brash and brazen entrance made a splash, and the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway competition has taken some of the PGA Tour's best players.

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and many others may have departed, but from the rubble emerge a burgeoning crop of young golfers, brimming with talent and hungry to stamp their name on the game.

With the new PGA Tour season under way, here are five golfers to watch out for in 2023.


Tom Kim 

South Korean KIm, who turned professional aged 15, has only 11 regular PGA Tour starts yet has managed to become the first player since Tiger Woods to win two tournaments before the age of 21. 

His maiden triumph at the Wyndham Championship in August came after an opening hole quad bogey, but he finished with a spectacular final-round 61 to win by five strokes.

A star-making display at the Presidents Cup followed by victory at the Shriners Open last month has got Kim's new season off to a flyer.

His game is the antithesis to many modern stars; not rooted in destructive power off the tee but, rather, in accuracy and finesse befitting of a player well beyond his years.

Kim's strokes gained statistics from tee to green rank him fifth in the PGA Tour this season and if his opening six months are anything to go by, it could be quite the season for the world number 14.

Sepp Straka

The tall, big-hitting Straka is much the opposite of the aforementioned Kim but is looking to build on his impressive end to last season as well.

Having won his first PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic in February, Straka endured a poor second half of the season before coming to life in the closing stages.

Despite defeat via playoff to Will Zalatoris in the opening FedEx Cup playoff event, the world number 27 went on to finish seventh in the season-ending standings.

Consistency has often evaded the Georgia native but an early season second-place finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month suggests Straka may have brought his form from the FedEx Cup with him into the new season.

For the Austrian 29-year-old, a place in Luke Donald's European Ryder Cup team should not be out of the question.

Sahith Theegala

Theegala enjoyed a hugely successful debut season on the PGA Tour in 2021-22 and will be chasing his first victory this season.

The 24-year-old led the Tour in birdies made (433) and possesses a complete and competitive skillet, which allowed him to catch fire and challenge at the top of the leaderboard on numerous occasions.

An agonising double bogey on the 72nd hole at the Travelers Championship in June saw him finish second to Xander Schauffele by two strokes in a season that also featured a T3 at the Phoenix Open and a T5 at The Memorial.

His accuracy off the tee represents perhaps the only major flaw in world number 53's game but two top-10 finishes in his opening four events this season are evidence enough of the prolific scoring capabilities that Theegala possesses.

Cameron Davis

Unassuming Aussie Davis has the temperament, swing, look and feel of an elite golfer. Yet, despite a maiden victory two seasons ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he has so far been unable to take that next step.

An impressive outing at the President Cup, however, has laid the foundations for what could be the true breakout year for the world number 66. 

His best finish this season is a tie for 13th at the CJ Cup last month and a look at the underlying data suggests his all-around game is trending in the right direction.

Off the tee, his distance and strokes gained rank inside the top 45 while his putting has improved from 84th last year to 53rd on the Tour this season.

There are only a few events to back up these numbers, but it feels like all the right pieces are coming together for Davis and if that is the case, he is undoubtedly one to watch.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will team up to face Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas for the 'The Match' next month.

It was announced on Monday that 15-time major champion Woods and world number one McIlroy will take on the American duo at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida on December 10.

Spieth and Thomas, who have five majors between them, will take on Woods and McIlroy in what will be the seventh edition of the exhibition series.

Woods faced Phil Mickelson when the event launched five years ago, then came up against his compatriot again when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady played in 'The Match' in 2020.

Thomas and Spieth will be making their first appearances in the competition.

The legendary Woods made an incredible return at the Masters in April after he suffered serious injuries in a car crash last year, before also teeing off in the PGA Championship and The Open.

Russell Henley sealed a four-shot victory in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba as he cruised to a fourth PGA Tour title.

It was Henley's first win since the 2017 Shell Houston Open, and he tied the tournament low-scoring record – set by Viktor Hovland last season. Henley's final aggregate of 23 under was secured by rounds of 63, 63, 65 and a 70 on Sunday.

He finished four shots clear of the field, but after going bogey-free for his first 58 holes, Henley's first blemish for the week came with a six at the par-five fifth, adding another bogey on 16 to go with his three birdies.

Speaking to NBC after stepping off the final green at the event in Mexico, Henley said he was guided by experience of previous occasions where he has not been able to convert 54-hole leads into wins.

"Just tried to learn from my past, and my screw-ups," he said. "That's kind of what I took from the last two events this season – what am I doing wrong, and how can I get better with it.

"All those events that I haven't closed out [five times he has held the 54-hole lead and not won], they hurt. You don't know if you'll ever get to win another one, it's so hard out here.

"To come down 18 with a four-shot lead, it's really cool. I don't even know what to say. I felt very nervous this weekend, I slept on the lead both nights – I've never slept on a six-shot lead.

"You just don't feel the same as when you're practising at home, you can't create that environment that you get out here when you're leading at a PGA Tour event.

"I guess all the times I didn't get it done, I learned from it, and here we are."

Alone in second place at 19 under was Brian Harman, who posted rounds of 66, 66, 67 and 66 in an incredibly consistent week which included a hole-in-one on Friday.

Scottie Scheffler was two strokes better than anyone else in the final trip around El Camaleon Golf Club, shooting a nine-under 62 to fly up the leaderboard into a tie for third at 18 under.

Joining Scheffler at 18 under were fellow Americans Joel Dahmen, Troy Merritt and Will Gordon, as well as last week's winner of the Bermuda Championship, Ireland's Seamus Power.

Sweden's David Lingmerth joined Sam Ryder at 17 under in a tie for eighth, while defending back-to-back champion of this event Hovland was one further back, tied for 10th.

Collin Morikawa finished the week at 15 under, and former world number one Jason Day was joined by former Masters champion Danny Willett at 14 under.

Russell Henley carded the lowest 54-hole score of the season to pull six strokes clear at the final turn at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Saturday.

The 33-year-old American carded a six-under-par 65, following on from successive rounds of 63 to hold a significant advantage from the nearest contenders, Will Gordon and Patton Kizzire at 16 under. Henley has tallied 191 across the three rounds at El Camaleon Golf Club.

Only four players had a better third round than Henley, who went into the day's play with a three-shot lead. Henley's long putt for birdie on the par-three 15th hole was his 22nd birdie of the tournament.

Seamus Power, who won last week's Butterfield Bermuda Championship, enjoyed the round of the day with an eight-under 63 to be alone in third.

Power's round included four birdies and two eagles, with one of the latter being a 138-yard hole-in-one on the eighth.

The Irishman is behind Gordon and Kizzire at 15 under, with Troy Merritt and Brian Harman one shot behind at 14 under. Reigning back-to-back champion Viktor Hovland is a further stroke behind among a group of four players.

Greyson Sigg, who is 13-under overall, aced the 10th to join Power and make it two holes-in-one on the same day in excellent conditions.

Joel Dahmen went within a whisker of the second-ever hole-in-one on a par four in PGA Tour history, when his massive approach landed inches away from the flag on the 17th hole.

Through 36 holes at the World Wide Technologies Championship at Mayakoba, Russell Henley has 16 birdies and zero bogeys to sit three strokes clear of the chasing field at 16 under.

Henley closed his opening round with six birdies on the back-nine to seal a 63, and his second time around El Camaleon Golf Club he evenly split his birdies with four on the front and four on the back.

The 33-year-old American has three PGA Tour victories to his name, but none since the 2017 Shell Houston Open. 

Tied for second at 13 under is American duo Sam Ryder and Will Gordon, while compatriot Patton Kizzire is the only player in fourth at 12 under.

Sweden's David Lingmerth is the top international talent, alone in fifth at 11 under, and one further back in a tie for sixth is Harry Higgs, who shot Friday's round-of-the-day with his 62 – including an eagle on the par-four third hole.

Matt Kuchar headlines the group tied for ninth at nine under, while some big names are at eight under, eight strokes off the lead.

Reigning back-to-back champion at this event Viktor Hovland is at that number, and he is joined by Collin Morikawa, Francesco Molinari, Davis Riley and Matthias Schwab.

Last week's winner at the Bermuda Championship, Seamus Power, is at seven under, while world number two Scottie Scheffler is with former Masters champion Danny Willett at six under, and former world number one Jason Day is one stroke inside the cut-line at five under.

The biggest name to miss the cut was world number 14 Tony Finau, who bogeyed the 18th hole to lose his right to play on the weekend.

Will Gordon shot four straight birdies on his way to holding a one-stroke lead from Russell Henley on the opening day at the PGA World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Thursday.

Gordon, who lost his PGA Tour card in his rookie season two years ago, shot a nine-under-par 62 including an eagle on the par-five fifth hole at El Camaleon Golf Club in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Henley is eight under, having also peeled off four consecutive birdies from the 10th to the 13th holes, while he finished his round with two more birdies to edge into second behind Gordon.

Scott Piercy, Francesco Molinari, Harris English and Sam Ryder are all one further stroke behind at seven under.

Viktor Hovland, who is chasing a third straight Mayakoba crown, is six under alongside Scottie Scheffler, who is hoping to re-claim the world number one ranking from Rory McIlroy.

The two-time Mayakoba champion started with two bogeys in his first eight holes, but rallied with four birdies before an eagle firmly put him in contention. Scheffler had less drama in his bogey-free round, with five birdies.

Another former Mayakoba winner, Matt Kuchar, put together four straight birdies from the fourth to the seventh holes, but is five under with two bogeys stalling his progress.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, struggled with four bogeys for an opening-day even-par 71 to be nine shots off the pace.

Tony Finau is three under, fighting back with four birdies on a bogey-free back nine after a triple bogey on the second hole.

Rory McIlroy could not have scripted a better start to his latest PGA Tour season.

The Northern Irishman, making his 2022-23 debut at the CJ Cup in South Carolina, carded four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to claim his third win of the calendar year. The victory moved him back to number one in the world for the ninth time in his career, but the first time since July 2020.

"I've worked so hard over the last 12 months to get myself back to this place," he said afterward. "I feel like I'm enjoying the game as much as I ever have. I absolutely love the game of golf and I think that when I go out there and I play with that joy, it's definitely showed over these last 12 months. Yeah, it feels awesome."

The 33-year-old, who captured the Tour Championship in August, became the first FedExCup champion to open his season with a win since Tiger Woods did it at the 2007 Buick Invitational. He also became the fifth player since 1983 to successfully defend a title on a different course and joined Woods as the only player in Tour history to do it multiple times (McIlroy won the 2019 and 2022 RBC Canadian Opens at two different locations, while the CJ Cup moved this year to Congaree Golf Club from The Summit Club in Las Vegas).

As always, McIlroy used his prodigious skill set with the driver to power his way to victory. He averaged 323 yards off the tee at Congaree, marking the fourth-longest average by a winner in the ShotLink era. It was the 31st time of McIlroy's storied career where he has led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, the most of any player since 2020.

Tom Kim chugs along

Tom Kim shocked the golf world when he burst on the scene at the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in August, when the youthful Korean came out of nowhere to shoot a final-round 61 and claim the regular-season finale.

The Korean would not be surprising anyone this year, though, especially after his breakout performance at the Presidents Cup. And yet there he was just a few weeks later, surprising everyone once again as he held up another trophy, this time at the Shriners Children's Open.

At 20 years, three months and 18 days old, Kim became the second-youngest player to win two PGA Tour events on the all-time list, behind only Ralph Guldahl, who won his second event in 1932 at 20 years, two months and 10 days.

Now trailing Kim on that list as a who's who of world-class players and Hall of Famers – Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Tom Creavy, John McDermott and some guy named Tiger Woods (he won his second event at 20 years, nine months and 20 days).

"Golf on the PGA Tour is really hard. It's really hard to win tournaments," said Kim, who also became the fastest Korean to multiple wins, taking just 18 starts. "You can't expect everything in life. I've just got to keep working hard on my game. I'm very fortunate to win twice on Tour and to be even out here. I think the mindset is for me I've just got to keep working hard and be grateful for what things come along."

Kim certainly makes the game look easy, despite what he may suggest. He became the first player since J.T. Poston in 2019 to go bogey-free in a tournament and win and was only the third to do it all-time (Lee Trevino first accomplished the feat in 1974). He hit 87.5 percent of his greens in regulation – the best mark by a Shriners winner since 2008 – and was a perfect 100 per cent in scrambling for the week.

Canadian Hughes nabs second win

But Kim was not the only player in October to card the second win of his PGA Tour career, as Canadian Mackenzie Hughes survived in the first play-off of the season to win the Sanderson Farms Championship.

The 31-year-old poured in an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to outlast Sepp Straka, notching his first victory since winning the RSM Classic six years ago. As the sun set over Mississippi, Hughes had to convert six critical putts over his final seven holes – four of them for par – before ultimately outlasting Straka.

"I kept telling myself the whole week that I was going to do it. That was the only thing I saw in my mind," Hughes said. "Those par saves down the stretch, I was just trying to will the ball into the hole."

It seemed to work. Hughes finished with a 91.67 scrambling percentage, the highest mark of his career and best since winning the aforementioned RSM Classic, where he finished with an 85 scrambling percentage (that was good for second at that event). His +2.31 average in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green was also the second-best average of his career, behind last year's RSM Classic, where he finished second after carding a +3.14 average.

"The second [win] felt harder because I've had to wait a lot longer for it," he said. "The first one came in my fifth tournament as a PGA Tour member. I felt like, 'Oh, man, this is going to be easy, I'm going to be able to rack up a few of these,' and it's been six years since I did that.

"It's been unbelievable. I didn't need the validation, but it's nice to be a two-time winner instead of a one-time winner and help to add to that tally."

Seamus Power had his worst round of the week on Sunday but he did enough to fend off the challengers and claim the Butterfield Bermuda Championship with a score of 19 under par.

It is the second PGA Tour title of Power's career after the 2021 Barbasol Championship, but it was anything but smooth sailing down the stretch.

Power owned a share of the lead heading into the final round after a trio of 65s, and he was bogey-free with three birdies through 12 holes on Sunday before the nerves began to show.

He posted bogeys on 13, 15 and 16, but a birdie on 17 gave him a two-stroke lead on the final hole, and he needed that buffer as he also bogeyed the last to close with a 70.

Speaking to NBC after stepping off the 18th green, Power called the course "a tale of two sides", and reflected on how different it feels to get his second win.

"I knew it was going to be really hard coming in, and it was," he said. "I made hard work of it in the end, but delighted to get it done.

"It's a completely different feeling [from my first win], but just as special. It's just so hard, I've played a lot of tournaments and it's only my second win from – I don't even know how many events.

"It's amazing, it's special, it's going to take a while to sink in, but absolutely over the moon."

Alone in second place at 18 under was Belgium's Thomas Detry, while the joint-leader heading into Sunday, Ben Griffin, shot a one-over 72 to finish tied for third at 17 under.

Joining Griffin was Taiwan's Kevin Yu and America's Patrick Rodgers, with the latter's 65 tying for Sunday's second-best score.

Two Australians worked their way into the top-10 as Aaron Baddeley finished tied with Denny McCarthy for sixth place at 16 under, while Harrison Endycott was two strokes further back alone in 10th.

Irishman Seamus Power produced the best round of the third day to move into a share of the lead with Ben Griffin at 18-under overall at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship on Saturday.

The co-leaders' three rounds of 195 is a new tournament record and came in difficult conditions with strong winds at Port Royal Golf Course impacting play.

Power carded a third straight six-under 65, bouncing back from a double bogey on the par-three 13th hole with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to grab the lead at a windy Port Royal Golf Course.

The 35-year-old Irishman had managed four consecutive birdies from the second to fifth holes, before he sunk a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-three 16th and brilliantly escaped an awkward lie on a slope on the par-five 17th.

Griffin, who walked away from golf nearly two years ago before returning last season, carded a five-under-round of 66 on Saturday, also coming unstuck on the 13th with a bogey before returning into the joint lead with a closing birdie after an exquisite approach.

Kevin Yu and Aaron Baddeley are next best, tied two shots behind at 16-under overall, with Brian Gay carding his third successive round of 66 to be alone at 15-under overall.

Greyson Sigg and Thomas Detry are a stroke back at 14 under, while Brent Grant shot into the lead early after six straight birdies early but three bogeys and a double bogey on his back nine saw him card a two-under 69 and be 11-under overall.

Halfway leader Ben Crane shot a two-over 73 to slip six shots off the pace and down the leaderboard at 12-under overall. Crane bogeyed four of five holes from the 13th to the 17th to slide out of contention.

Ben Crane shot Friday's round of the day at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, with his nine-under 62 propelling him to the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend at 14 under.

In his second trip around Bermuda's Port Royal Golf Course, Crane collected nine birdies and one eagle with his two bogeys to sit alone atop the leaderboard as the 46-year-old seeks his first PGA Tour win since the 2014 FedEx St Jude Classic.

He is one stroke clear of a five-man group at 13 under, including joint first-round leader Austin Smotherman, as well as rising talent Robby Shelton and Australia's Aaron Baddeley.

A strong international contingent is tied for seventh at 12 under, headlined by Ireland's Seamus Power, and he is joined by Taiwan's Kevin Yu, China's Zecheng Dou and Colombia's Nico Echavarria.

Belgium's Thomas Detry and Argentina's Fabian Gomez are at 11 under, while Harrison Endycott – who was tied with Smotherman for the first-round lead – followed his opening 62 with a disappointing 70 to enter the weekend four strokes off the pace.

Caleb Surratt is the top amateur in the field at seven under after enjoying a strong seven-under 64 in his second round, shaking off the nerves following his 71 on Thursday to sit well inside the projected cut-line.

Austin Smotherman and Harrison Endycott shot nine-under 62s in the opening round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship on Thursday to claim a share of the lead.

America's Smotherman, 28, started like a house on fire, following his opening par with six birdies from his next eight holes. He then finished in similar fashion, with three birdies from his final four holes while going bogey-free.

Australia's Endycott, 26, took a different route to his 62, collecting eagles on the par-five seventh and 17th holes. After starting his back-nine with back-to-back bogeys, he steadied the ship with four consecutive birdies in an action-packed round.

That pairing is one stroke clear of the chasing pack, with India's Arjun Atwal joining Americans Adam Schenk, Scott Brown, Denny McCarthy and Robby Shelton at eight under.

Justin Lower started on the back-nine and had five birdies from his first eight holes on his way to a bogey-free 64 and a tie for eighth, where he is joined by Belgium's Thomas Detry. One further back, Ireland's Seamus Power headlines the group at six under with Australia's Aaron Baddeley, South Africa's M.J. Daffue and China's Zecheng Dou.

Scotland's Russell Knox, Austria's Matthias Schwab and France's Martin Trainer are part of a 25-player group four strokes off the lead at five under.

Kim Seong-hyeon, who entered the tournament as the highest ranked member of the field in the early-season FedEx Cup standings (18th) is well in the mix at four under, and fan-favourite John Daly shot an even-par 71.

Henrik Stenson has emphatically denied suggestions he accepted the Ryder Cup captaincy to gain negotiating power for a more lucrative offer with the LIV Golf International Series.

The 46-year-old was stripped of Team Europe captaincy duties for next September's Ryder Cup after joining the Saudi-backed breakaway league in July.

Stenson won his first LIV Golf event in Bedminster at the start of August, aiming a dig at his dismissal as he stated "I guess we can agree I played like a captain".

As the Swede prepares for the last LIV Golf event of the season in Miami, Stenson refuted reports he had used his Ryder Cup offer to leverage a more financially rewarding offer with his new employers.

"I can give you a 100 per cent honest answer that it was never the case," he told Sportsmail. "I would be willing to take a lie-detector test on that."

Numerous former Ryder Cup captains, including Padraig Harrington and Mark James, concluded Stenson could have no complaints over his captaincy removal, though he insists he does not regret his decision.

"I am happy. I thought that through in more than one afternoon. I am happy with where I am at," he added. "I managed to get a win straight out of the box and I am looking forward to next year.

"I am enjoying being with the guys on this tour. We are playing together, travelling together and it has a different vibe to regular life on tour that I did for many years. That was great. But I am enjoying this.

"I haven't played anything but LIV events since the summer, so I mean going forward I am getting the off-season I have wanted for 16 or 17 years.

"I am looking forward to that – getting strong and healthy in the gym and getting ready for the new season in February. I am happy."

Stenson will play in his final event of the season at Trump National Doral, starting on Friday.

Ian Poutler has refuted Rory McIlroy's claim that players joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series engaged in a "betrayal" of their former Ryder Cup team-mates.

Five players who featured in Europe's comprehensive defeat at last year's Ryder Cup have since joined the controversial breakaway circuit, including Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

Meanwhile, Henrik Stenson was stripped of Team Europe's captaincy for next year's competition – set to take place at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome – following his own decision to join LIV Golf.

It remains uncertain whether players from the LIV circuit will be able to feature at the 2023 Ryder Cup, and McIlroy has repeatedly insisted they should not. 

Speaking to the Guardian on Tuesday, McIlroy went a step further, saying: "I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way. It's an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things."

Poulter responded to that statement at a press conference ahead of LIV's next event in Miami, saying: "A betrayal? I mean, we can still qualify for the team, as far as I'm aware, unless we've been told we can't qualify.

"I'm still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try and make that team.

"My commitment to the Ryder Cup, I think goes before me. I don't think that should ever come into question. 

"I've always wanted to play Ryder Cups and play with as much passion as anyone else that I've ever seen play a Ryder Cup, I don't know where those comments really come from, to be honest."

Phil Mickelson – one of the first household names to join LIV Golf – spoke alongside Poulter on Wednesday but refused to engage with McIlroy's claim the circuit's feud with the PGA Tour was "out of control". 

"I think a lot of Rory, I really have the utmost respect for him, [for] what he's done in the game and how he's played this year," Mickelson said. 

"I have a tonne of respect for him. As players, we have three months off after this event to talk about things like that and so forth."

Rory McIlroy reclaimed the world number one ranking after his first win of the new season and the 23rd of his PGA Tour career, securing the CJ Cup with a score of 17 under par.

McIlroy took the outright lead on the 14th hole with his fifth birdie of the day and built a tournament-winning lead with two more birdies on the next two holes on his way to a Sunday 67. 

Those extra insurance birdies ended up coming in handy after the Northern Irishman bogeyed the final two holes, but Kurt Kitayama could not birdie the last to force a playoff.

He entered the final round leading by one stroke, and by finishing the same way, he leapfrogged Scottie Scheffler to the top of the world rankings as the American finished tied for 45th at one under.

Speaking to NBC after stepping off the final green, McIlroy spoke about his love for the game and his journey back to the top.

"It feels great," he said. "It feels great to go out there with the lead, shoot a great score, play really well and get the win. 

"It's an awesome way to start the season, I guess, and a continuation of how I feel I've been playing the past few months.

"[Becoming world number one] means a lot. I've worked so hard over the last 12 months to get myself back to this place. I feel like I'm enjoying the game as much as I ever have, I absolutely love the game of golf.

"When I go out there and play with that joy – it's definitely shown over the past few months. It feels awesome, I'm looking forward to celebrating with my team."

Kitayama finished alone in second at 16 under, with Lee Kyoung-hoon the only player in third at 15 under.

Tommy Fleetwood shot Sunday's equal second-best score with a 65 to jump up into a tie for fourth at 14 under with Jon Rahm.

Aaron Wise finished alone in sixth at 12 under and an all-American group headlined by Sam Burns rounded out the top-10, tied for seventh at 11 under.

The best fourth-round score came from Taylor Montgomery, who was three strokes better than the field on the last trip around Congaree Golf Cup with his nine-under 62 – finishing his tournament at nine under after entering the round at even par.

Rory McIlroy carded two eagles on the third day at the CJ Cup to catapult himself to the top of the leaderboard by one stroke at the Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina on Saturday.

McIlroy's four-under-par 67 moved him to 13 under after 54 holes, ahead of Lee Kyoung-hoon, who tied the day's lowest round with 66, Kurt Kitayama and halfway leader Jon Rahm who are all 12 under.

Taylor Moore and Aaron Wise are next best, both a further two shots back at 10 under ahead of the final day.

McIlroy's round included three bogeys and three birdies, but was highlighted by eagles on the par-five fourth hole and par-five 12th.

The Northern Irishman, who is the defending CJ Cup champion, approached from 227 yards with a long iron that landed within two feet of the flag on the fourth. McIlroy holed out up a slight hill for a 32-foot eagle on the 12th.

McIlroy's round also included a touch of fortune on the 15th when a heavy shot hit a sprinkler head to slow it up nicely on the green, leading to par.

Lee stormed into contention with six birdies across his round, managing a fine approach on the 17th to card one of only three birdies of the day on that hole.

Rahm also achieved that feat on the penultimate hole to help resurrect his hopes, after three bogeys in four holes in the middle of his round.

Kitayama, who had been second behind Rahm coming into the third day, had his worst round of the tournament, carding a one-under 70.

South Korean phenom Tom Kim carded a two-under 69 to be nine-under overall, while Tommy Fleetwood and Maverick McNealy both managed rounds of 66 to be eight under.

World number one Scottie Scheffler's miserable CJ Cup continued with a three-over 74, leaving him well off the pace, while Wyndham Clark provided a bright point with an ace on the par-three 10th.

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