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Rahm, up one, hunts 'career-defining' Players win

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jon Rahm caught fire Saturday at The Players Championship, moving into position to make a run at his most important victory yet.

With an 8-under-par 64, he is the player to beat Sunday at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. At 15-under overall, he’ll take a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy (70) and Tommy Fleetwood (70) with into the final round. He’ll go off with Fleetwood in the final pairing.

Rahm, 24, will be seeking his third PGA Tour title and his seventh worldwide win. He said The Players ranks as one of the coveted titles he wants to secure in a bid to carve out a Hall of Fame career.

“It would be absolutely amazing to name yourself a Players champion,” he said. “It's definitely one of those events that they consider to get you in the Hall of Fame. It's career defining.”

Nobody was better than Rahm in the third round. He had a 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th for to tie the championship record of 63, but his ball veered left.

Full-field scores from the The Players Championship

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“It was one of those days,” Rahm said. “Really, really confident with my irons. Every time I stepped up, I felt like I was going to hit a good shot.”

Rahm was first in the field Saturday in strokes gained: tee to green. He had seven putts of 7 feet or less for eagle or birdie.

His best iron shot of the day?

“It’s hard to pick one from the day,” he said.

It might have been his 4-iron from 244 yards at the 11th. He hit it to 3 feet to set up eagle.

“Eleven was one of those shots that you visualize in your mind, and one of the few times in your life that it's going to come out exactly how you see it,” he said.

Or maybe it was the nervy pitching wedge he hit into the wind at the 17th. He put it less than 3 feet to set up birdie.

“I was hitting my irons very, very well,” Rahm said.