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The Players Championship Purse 2019: Prize Money Sets PGA Record

The Players Championship Purse 2019: Prize Money Sets PGA Record

Same with the daunting tee shot at the 18th hole, the slew of players in contention and the windy conditions. It's a course McIlroy is most familiar with.

Jack Nicklaus took to Twitter on Sunday night for memories of the time McIlroy first came to meet with him ahead of the 2010 Masters, and a few months later the precocious 20-year-old from Northern Ireland shot 62 on the final day at Quail Hollow for his first PGA Tour victory.

"I've been working so hard on the mental aspect of my game, trying to keep myself in check a little more", said Rahm, the 24-year-old Spaniard so full of passion.

"It's very nice to get a win, " he said. If I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I've shown over the first few weeks of the year?

Rory McIlroy believes his Players Championship glory has provided him with the answer to finally crack The Masters code in three weeks' time.

Such talk was inevitable, given McIlroy's stature in the game and his run of high finishes in 2019, none of which has been worse than sixth. The Arnold Palmer Invitational last week was the ninth time in his last 30 tournaments dating to the start of 2018 that he played in the final group without winning.

But just remember the new, refined McIlroy: "I don't play golf to answer - I play golf for myself".

McIlroy missed the cut in his first three appearances.

McIlroy did not even need to bring his best. Although none of his final rounds was frightful - he shot 72 a week ago in the final round at Bay Hill - he was coming up short.

"I'm comfortable with where everything is", McIlroy said. "I missed the nerves, I missed the excitement, the cheers, and I think the emotion you saw on 18 was just I was proud of the way I played".

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"Maybe, if this had not gone the way I wanted it to, it might have eaten away at me", McIlroy told me. "That's all you need to do, make a good swing in here, two good swings at the last, and this thing is yours", he said. He finished tied for 12th in putts per greens in regulation and 41st in the field in strokes-gained-putting.

"I think all those experiences this year led me to this point and ultimately they were good for me because it got me over the line".

Suddenly staked to a one-shot lead, McIlroy had a 125-yard walk along the water to the 17th hole to face an island that never looks smaller than on Sunday at The Players Championship, followed by the toughest hole on the TPC Sawgrass with water down the entire left side.

On Sunday, he had to contend with a flurry of competitors.

Both Eddie Pepperell and Jonathan Vegas made monster putts - Vegas' was measured at 70 feet, the longest ever recorded - at the 17th hole to boost their chances.

Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood lost their way early, and then late. Furyk started the back nine with two birdies to get in the mix and finished strong. Then he parred the iconic par 3, 17th; stuck with his driver on the 18th, hitting another massive drive; and smacked an aggressive approach shot and then two-putt for par and the win. Then it was a matter of navigating two treacherous tee shots with water lurking at the 17th and 18th holes.

A bogey on the 14th had dropped McIlroy adrift of the lead, but he fought back with birdies on the 15th and 16th to regain a one-shot lead with two to play.

McIlroy did his best to skirt the topic of Masters prospects in his press conference Sunday night, opting to focus on the trophy sitting next to him rather than the only one still missing from his resumé.

His reaction when he tapped in for par Sunday to win The Players was not much different from when he finished with a par at Bay Hill, a bogey at Riviera, a birdie at Torrey Pines.