Woods shoots closing 69 at Sawgrass as leaders head out

Tiger Woods signed for a final-round 69 at The Players Championship as the leading contenders began plotting their route to victory.

The 14-time major winner was three under for his round at the turn and held onto that score over the back nine to conclude a solid outing in Florida, where he finished six under overall.

Woods, who has twice won the tournament, was then set to assume the role of spectator for what promised to be a thrilling conclusion to what is regarded as the unofficial fifth major.

Jon Rahm slept on a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event for the first time, but the young Spaniard was facing stiff competition from fellow Team Europe Ryder Cup stars Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.

The lingering presence of world number one Dustin Johnson added further intrigue, with the likes of 2016 winner Jason Day, compatriot Adam Scott and losing Team USA Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk also in contention.

Rahm’s first-hole bogey perhaps hinted at some nerves, with McIlroy’s par moving him level on 14 under, while Fleetwood’s three-putt left him a stroke back in the early going.