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.

Jon Rahm was the star of the show on Friday at the CJ Cup, shooting a nine-under 62 to jump all the way up into a share for first place at 11 under with Kurt Kitayama.

Rahm's 62 came after an opening 69, raising his birdie count from six to 10, while cutting his bogeys from four to one as he figured out the Congaree Golf Club course.

Kitayama has been a much steadier presence this week, posting rounds of 66 and 65, with his second round highlighted by an impressive eagle on the par-five 12th hole.

Those two players lead the pack by one stroke, with Australia's Cam Davis and America's Aaron Wise tied for third at 10 under with back-to-back 66s.

Rory McIlroy is alone in fifth at nine under after following a front-nine score of 37 with an impressive 30 on the back-nine, and he is two strokes clear of a logjam tied for sixth at seven under.

The group includes young phenom Tom Kim, as well as former major champion Shane Lowry and England's Tyrrell Hatton, while Masters champion Danny Willett is a further shot back at six under.

Presidents Cup representatives Max Homa and Im Sung-jae enter the weekend six strokes off the pace at five under, with former world number one Jason Day at four under and current world number one Scottie Scheffler at three under.

Being an invitational event with no cut, Collin Morikawa (three under), Rickie Fowler (two under), Justin Thomas (one under) and Hideki Matsuyama (even par) will all get to stick around and play two more rounds.

Defending CJ Cup champion Rory McIlroy started strong to be one shot behind joint leaders Gary Woodland and Trey Mullinax after the opening day at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina.

The Northern Irishman is tied with six players at five-under after carding opening rounds of 66, including recent Shriners Children's Open winner Tom Kim.

McIlroy pieced together birdies on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes, but his round leveled out, finishing bogey-free.

Woodland was one of the pre-tournament favourites and he impressed early, with three straight birdies to open his round.

The American dropped three bogeys to slow his progress, but sunk a 21-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th to finish his round with nine birdies and a share of the lead.

Co-leader Mullinax birdied four of his first six holes and six of his first 11, highlighted by a 23-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

Kim, who is only 20-years-old, stormed up the leaderboard late with three birdies in his final six holes, including rolling in a 28-foot birdie on the 16th although he slipped from the lead with a bogey on the 18th.

McIlroy and Kim are joined by Cam Davis, Kurt Kitayama, Aaron Wise and Wyndham Clark in carding opening day rounds of five-under-par.

Norwegian Viktor Hovland and American Tyrrell Hatton headline the following six-member group at four-under.

Two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is back at three-under, while former world number one pair Jon Rahm and Jason Day are at two-under. Scottie Scheffler finished with an even round.

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth had a poor round that included a double bogey on the sixth and four bogeys to be four-over-par.

Rory McIlroy has hit back at Phil Mickelson by claiming the American's verdict that the PGA Tour is "trending downwards" is illogical.

Northern Irishman McIlroy has been one of the most prominent opponents of the LIV Golf breakaway tour, which made Mickelson an early flagship signing.

Mickelson said in Jeddah last week: "I firmly believe that I'm on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.

"I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards. And I love the side that I'm on."

McIlroy has the likes of Tiger Woods in his corner, staying true to the tour that has for many years provided their livelihood.

"I think the people that have decided to stay here and play these tournaments, they or we haven't done anything differently than what we've always done. We're sticking to the system that has traditionally been there," McIlroy said.

"The guys that have gone over to LIV are the ones that have made the disruption they're the ones you have put the golf world in flux right now.

"For them to be talking the way they are, it's bold and there's a ton of propaganda being used. But I certainly don't see the PGA Tour trending downwards.

"Ninety-five per cent of the talent is here. You've people like Tom Kim coming through and that's the future of our game.

"I don't agree with what Phil said last week. I understand why he said it, because of the position he is in, but I don't think anyone that takes a logical view of the game of golf can agree with what he said."

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are among the other high-profile players who turned their back on the PGA Tour

McIlroy, competing this week at the CJ Cup in South Carolina, has a chance to go back to the top of the world rankings, if he has a stellar week and Scottie Scheffler struggles.

With no points currently available at LIV events, it has made the route back to number one perhaps less arduous than it might have been for McIlroy.

McIlroy said: "If I get back to number one this week, it's like my ninth time getting back.

"It's like a heavyweight boxer losing a world title, and it's the journey of getting it back. That's the journey I've been on over the last 12 months."

Across his previous eight stints at number one, McIlroy has spent 106 weeks atop the rankings.

He ardently wants top spot again but says the fact of being number one would still have him wanting more.

"I got to number one in the world [for the first time] after I won the Honda Classic in 2012, and it'd been a goal of mine for maybe six months up until that point," McIlroy said. "I ended up getting there after the Honda, but I remember waking up the next morning and being like, 'Is this it?'.

"You work towards the goal for so long but don't feel any different after having achieved it, so it's a matter of having to reframe your goals and re-framing what success looks like.

"I think that's one of the great things about this game. No matter what you've achieved or what success you've had, you always want to do something else. You've got to maybe work harder to stay there."

Richard Mansell heads into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship armed with a four-shot lead and a glorious chance to earn a first DP World Tour win.

Englishman Mansell was one of just three players to go under 70 when wild weather made for troublesome golfing conditions on Friday, and the 27-year-old followed that impressive 68 with 67 on Saturday to reach 15 under par.

At a tournament where the first three rounds have been split daily between St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, it is Mansell who will start on Sunday as the frontrunner when all competitors head to the Old Course for the closing 18 holes.

Three players sit four shots off the pace, with Sweden's Alex Noren losing ground to Mansell after going round in 69 at St Andrews. He was joined on 11 under by two players who competed at Kingsbarns on Saturday: England's Daniel Gavins (67) and New Zealand's Ryan Fox (65).

Mansell, who played Carnoustie on Saturday, has yet to win on the tour and entered this week on the back of two missed cuts, but he has had top-four finishes this season at the European Open, World Invitational and European Masters.

The world number 218 is having the best year of his career, earning almost €550,000 (£480,000) already, and he can more than double that on Sunday, with $816,000 (£730,000) on offer to the champion.

The low round of Saturday came from Belgium's Thomas Pieters, whose bogey-free 64 repaired some of Friday's damage, when he followed his opening 65 with a ruinous 84.

Rory McIlroy had a 75 on Friday but rebounded with 66 at St Andrews on Saturday to reach seven under, likely too far back to mount a challenge on the final day.

Richard Mansell overcame tricky conditions to shoot a four-under-par 68 to ensure he goes into the weekend at the top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard.

Mansell carded the lowest score of the round to get to ten under par, helped by four birdies on the front nine as he battled through the wet and windy weather.

The Englishman now holds a two-shot lead over Sweden's Alex Noren in second, while Antoine Rozner and Niklas Norgaard Moller sit three shots behind the leader on seven under par.

Romain Langasque, who equalled the best-ever round at the Old Course at St Andrews with his opening round of 11-under-par on Thursday, endured a nightmare second day as he shot an eight-over-par 80 to fall to 19th.

Rory McIlroy was another to struggle with the conditions, with the world number two going round in 75 at Kingsbarns to drop to joint-43rd.

Scot Robert MacIntyre remains in contention after carding a second round of 70, while English pair Callum Shinkwin and Daniel Gavins are also in striking distance on five under par.

The PGA Tour has accused the LIV Golf Invitational Series of making "astronomical" offers to players in a bid to "sportswash" Saudi Arabia's global image in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. 

The controversial LIV series – which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks – launched an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month.

LIV accused the PGA of operating as a monopoly and alleged the Tour's decision to issue suspensions to players who joined the breakaway circuit was improper.

Eleven LIV golfers were originally named as plaintiffs in that claim, although eight – including Mickelson – have since withdrawn.

The PGA Tour has now hit back with legal action of its own, alleging: "A key component of LIV's strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform."

The PGA's counterclaim goes on to accuse LIV of offering players "astronomical sums of money" in an attempt "to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities."

In a widely publicised statement, LIV responded by saying: "The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct.

"We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs."

FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy – who has been a staunch critic of the LIV series – declared golf was "ripping itself apart" earlier on Thursday, as the bitter divide between the two circuits shows no signs of healing.

One day earlier, McIlroy called on LIV players to do more to foster a sense of reconciliation between the tours, declaring: "The ball is in their court".

Frenchman Romain Langasque leads the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after producing an outstanding 11-under-par opening round of 61 on Thursday.

Langasque – who is 272nd in the official world golf rankings – hit two eagles, eight birdies and just one bogey in his round, equalling the best-ever at The Old Course at St Andrews made by Ross Fisher in 2017.

However, he sits just one clear of compatriot Frederic Lacroix, who went round in 62 at Kingsbarns.

It was a good day for the French as Antoine Rozner looked to have locked out the top three for them, before Dane Niklas Noergaard Moeller also carded an opening round of 63.

"It feels very good," Langasque said of his achievement. "As I said to my caddie, it didn't feel like I shot 11 under today. I was having a good run, but just five, six was the way I think of it, but just the end of the course was amazing.

"I holed a few long putts. The game was great but it didn't feel [like] I shot 11 under.

"I never [thought] I'd have the course record at St Andrews, now I think my name is on this board so I am really happy about this. It's only the first round so I want to stay really focused for the next few days."

Rory McIlroy could not match those numbers at Carnoustie, hitting six birdies and two bogeys as he finished with 68, but the world number two was pleased enough with his first round.

"I started really well," he said. "I played the back nine very well, then sort of stalled a little bit and made a couple of bad swings coming in. Overall, you are not going to get Carnoustie in easier conditions so I feel like I left a few shots out there.

"It was a decent day and to play decent, you do not want to be chasing in what looks like really bad weather tomorrow so I've put a red number on the board and have a few shots to play with."

Rory McIlroy believes "golf is ripping itself apart right now" as the battle between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf Invitational Series rages on.

The introduction of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf has caused a huge divide in the sport, with big names such as Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau defecting from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.

The storm has also seen some defectors file lawsuits against the PGA Tour after it banned those who made the switch to LIV Golf from playing in its events.

And McIlroy, who has remained fiercely loyal to the PGA Tour, sees the dispute as harmful for players on both sides of the divide, telling reporters: "I don't want a fractured game. I never have.

"You look at some other sports and what's happened and the game of golf is ripping itself apart right now.

"It's no good for the guys on, you know, this side or the sort of traditional system and it's no good for the guys on the other side, either.

"It's no good for anyone. There is a time and a place for it. I just think right now, with where everything is, it's probably not the right time.

"I've always said I think there is a time and a place where everyone that's involved here should sit down and try to work together. It's very hard for that to happen right now when there's two lawsuits going on."

McIlroy already said on Wednesday that it fell upon LIV Golf players to take the lead on repairing relations between the two tours.

"I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy told the BBC.

"If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

Rory McIlroy has called for players from the LIV Golf Invitational Series to step up to fix the bitter divide impacting the sport, declaring: "The ball is in their court."

McIlroy has been a steadfast critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks. 

The FedEx Cup champion declared his "hatred" for the breakaway circuit last month, and recently said LIV players should be excluded from next year's Ryder Cup.

Speaking to BBC Sport on Wednesday, McIlroy said it was up to LIV's players to assume a leading role in repairing relations with those who remained loyal to the PGA.

"I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy said. "If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

Eleven LIV players initially supported an antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour, accusing it of operating as a monopoly and alleging the suspension of players joining the new circuit was improper.

However, eight of those players have since withdrawn, with Mickelson doing so on Tuesday. 

While McIlroy believes a resolution to golf's bitter civil war is possible, he said those legal proceedings currently make reconciliation difficult.

"Right now with two lawsuits going on, and how heightened the rhetoric has been, I think we just need to let it cool off a little bit," McIlory added.

"I don't know what's going to happen with this lawsuit. No one's going to want to talk to anyone when it's hanging over the game, so I don't know what happens there.

"I've probably said a few things that are maybe too inflammatory at times, but it just comes from the heart and how much I hate what this is doing to the game.

"It has been an ugly year but there's a solution to everything. If we can send rockets to the moon and bring them back again and have them land on their own I'm sure we can figure out how to make professional golf cohesive again."

However, as LIV Golf continues to lobby the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for the ability to grant rankings points, McIlroy said the circuit's players will only have themselves to blame if they miss out on qualifying for majors.

"The only ones that are prohibiting them from getting world rankings points are themselves," McIlroy said.

"It's not as if [the OWGR] created this criteria out of thin air a few months ago to try to prevent LIV from getting points.

"I think if they were to pivot, have cuts, have a minimum field of 75, have more of a merit-based system where there's a meritocracy for how to get on the tour...

"There's a bunch of stuff where they don't meet the criteria yet, but if they were to change and meet all those points then there's obviously no reason not to give them world ranking points.

"I'm certainly not for banning them from majors, but with the way the world rankings are now, if someone that hasn't won the Masters before can't garner enough world ranking points to be eligible, then I think that's entirely on them.

"They knew the risks going in, and actions have consequences. That was a risk that they were paid for, ultimately. 

"If some of these guys that don't have exemptions in the majors don't qualify for them, I have no problem with that because they knew that going in."

Robert MacIntyre landed his second DP World Tour title by beating Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off finish to the Italian Open.

The 26-year-old, whose only previous Tour triumph came at the Cyprus Showdown in 2020, started the final round three shots behind overnight leader Fitzpatrick.

However, a remarkable 10 birdies for MacIntyre at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club saw him finish seven-under par on Sunday and 14-under overall, level with Fitzpatrick.

US Open winner Fitzpatrick, who was seeking a second title of the season, birdied the 18th hole to force a play-off in Rome.

Just one hole was required as the Englishman could only manage a par after a poor tee shot, whereas MacIntyre birdied to seal a surprise victory.

"This means everything," MacIntyre said. "I was down and out about two or three months ago – I didn't know what I was doing and didn't know where to go.

"But we spoke to the right people and I started working with Simon Shanks. I mean, I've hit two perfect golf shots into the last there. There's so much hard work gone into this."

Rory McIlroy had been expected to rival Fitzpatrick for the title, the Northern Irishman starting the day one shot behind, but he ended up finishing fourth.

He started the final round with a double-bogey on the first hole, before recovering with five birdies over the next 14 holes.

McIlroy was back within one shot of the lead at that point, but a bogey on the par-four 16th, when finding the water off the tee, effectively ended his chances.

Victor Perez capitalised to finish third at 13 under, with his final round of 66 bettered only by MacIntyre's 64.

Matt Fitzpatrick is "not really too bothered" about the prospect of playing alongside LIV Golf rebels in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Debate around the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway series has dominated this year and is only likely to ramp up further ahead of the Ryder Cup in 2023.

Rory McIlroy has been a fierce opponent of LIV Golf, and speaking on Wednesday, ahead of the Italian Open, he reiterated his stance on selection for the prestigious team event.

"If I have said it once, I've said it a hundred times: I don't think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup team," he said.

However, U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick, McIlroy's European team-mate, does not agree.

McIlroy is set to play the Ryder Cup for the seventh time and already has four triumphs to his name. On the other hand, Fitzpatrick has only been on the losing team, in both 2016 and 2021. 

"I just want to win the Ryder Cup," Fitzpatrick said. "I want to be part of the team myself, but I want the 11 best guys we can get.

"I'm not really too bothered about where they are going to come from. I just want to make sure that we win, and I think that's what's most important.

"I know other guys might not necessarily agree with that, but I know the winning feeling is worth more than any sort of arguments you might have with other players.

"There's one that I had a conversation with last week – I told him I'd happily have him on the team. I'd have no issues."

Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter were all team-mates of McIlroy and Fitzpatrick in Europe's 2021 team and have each since played LIV Golf events.

Soren Kjeldsen carded a superb eight-under 64 on a belated second day of the BMW PGA Championship, tying for the lead with Viktor Hovland.

Having seen play postponed on Friday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, matters resumed at Wentworth with Kjeldsen posting one of the scores of the day.

The Dane moved to 12 under for the tournament, but that was only enough for a share of the lead after Hovland built on his own 64 with a four-under 68.

Hovland had jointly held the lead with Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan at close of play on Thursday.

Fleetwood fell away in the second round, though, with a round of one over par – including a double-bogey at the four-par sixth – leaving him five back.

Rory McIlroy, pipped to the PGA Tour Player of the Year award by Scottie Scheffler on Saturday, continued his strong form with a seven-under 65.

That effort, which included an eagle at the par-five fourth, moved McIlroy to 11 under, one shot off the lead alongside Thomas Detry and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Meanwhile, the round of the day – and indeed the tournament so far – belonged to Australia's Min Woo Lee, who bounced back spectacularly from Thursday's 76 with a sensational 10-under 62, guided by two eagles and seven birdies.

Scottie Scheffler received an overwhelming majority of the votes as he was named PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2022.

Scheffler, the world number one, has enjoyed a brilliant year, winning his first major title at The Masters in April.

The 26-year-old won in four of his first six starts this year, becoming the first player since Jason Day in the 2014-15 season to do so, and finished T2 at the US Open alongside Will Zalatoris, one shot back from champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Other than his triumph at Augusta, Scheffler won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Phoenix Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Only the great Tiger Woods (eight victories) has previously won four tournaments, including a major and a WGC competition, in the same season.

Scheffler was presented with the Jack Nicklaus Award live on ESPN's College GameDay ahead of the college football meeting between the Texas Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday.

A Dallas native, Scheffler received 89 per cent of the votes to clinch the award ahead of Rory McIlroy and Cameron Smith. He is the first player to win the Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year, PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year.

"On behalf of the PGA Tour, congratulations to Scottie on his remarkable season and his unprecedented achievements," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement.

"Undoubtedly, one of the highest compliments a player can receive is the endorsement from his peers, and the fact that Scottie's season was both dominant and consistent spoke volumes to the membership. 

"As gratifying as it has been to see his development on the course over the last several years, we are equally thankful that Scottie has embraced the role as an ambassador of the PGA Tour and the game of golf. With young stars like Scottie leading the way, the PGA Tour is in great hands for many years to come."

Scheffler finished the 2021-22 season with 11 top-10 finishes in 25 starts, though he was just pipped to the FedEx Cup title by McIlroy.

The Northern Irishman won three tournaments over the course of the season, and became a de facto spokesperson for the PGA Tour amid the LIV Golf Invitational Series breakaway.

Smith - who like McIlroy recorded three victories, though unlike the world number three clinched a major title at The Open Championship - is one of the biggest names LIV Golf have lured away from the PGA Tour.

Tommy Fleetwood impressed on his return to claim a share of the lead after round one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, shooting eight-under-par to end Thursday tied with Andy Sullivan and Viktor Hovland.

Fleetwood had not played since finishing fourth in the Open at St Andrews in July, having taken an extended period of absence following his mother's death.

But he showed no signs of rustiness on Thursday as he cruised around a rainy Wentworth in 64 shots, covering his last seven holes in six under before declaring his delight at returning to the DP World Tour. 

"It's nice to be back more than anything," said Fleetwood. "Seven weeks off feels more like two years I guess. 

"When you stand on the first tee, you don't know what to expect, no matter how well you might have been practising or playing.

"It was a lovely grouping to come back to, best friends on Tour [Justin Rose was in his group]. It's always better that I played good rather than bad, but it was just nice to be back."

Sullivan recovered with a fine bunker shot at the 18th to ensure he remained level with Fleetwood, before Hovland joined the leading duo in style with an eagle on the last, sinking a fine putt from 27 feet.

Jordan Matthew finished seven-under on a good day for the home hopefuls, with Shane Lowry, Jason Scrivener, Fabrizio Zanotti and Marcus Amitage all a shot further back.

Rory McIlroy, who became the first three-time FedEX Cup winner last month, finished four-under for the day, and told Sky Sports he could have done more.

"I thought I played okay, as you said the rain was on and off all day and that made it really tricky," he said.

"I felt four-under was pretty pedestrian, I didn't do a lot right, I didn't do a lot wrong, I definitely feel that the course is going to be very gettable for the rest of the week.

"Winning gives me motivation more than anything else, you've proven to yourself that you can win, you can beat the best players in the world. I've always got this sense of excitement after a win, and it's about resetting goals to strive for other things."

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