McIlroy delight after swinging into top form under shadow of Pyramids
RORY McILROY became the first professional golfer to hit balls in the shadow of the Great Pyramids at Giza yesterday -- and then brilliantly broke free of the technical shackles which had entombed him all week at the SODIC Egyptian Open.
A spectacular run of four birdies in the closing six holes of his third round at the Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo at last gave the land of the Pharaohs a glimpse of his sublime talent -- and helped explain why the organisers of this ambitious Challenge Tour event paid World No 9 McIlroy a reputed €200,000 to play in and promote their tournament.
Having struggled to find his best form because of an ongoing swing change, the Ulsterman (21) finally clicked yesterday as he rounded off a three-under par 69 with a flourish.
Tied 20th on two-under-par with, among others, Glasson's Colm Moriarty entering the final round, McIlroy needs an effort as wondrous as the Sphinx or the Great Pyramids themselves to bridge the 10 shots between himself and overnight leader George Murray.
The Scotsman produced a sublime birdie-birdie-eagle finish of his own to a third-round 68 which gave him a one-stroke lead over Dutchman Floris de Vries and Italy's Alessandro Tadini.
"I began hitting a few good shots on the driving range which is always nice to see and managed to take it out on to the golf course," said McIlroy.
"I started the round quite nicely; had a bit of a dodgy middle spell and then finished strongly with four birdies in the last six holes so it's definitely a lot better today.
"I am usually pretty quick with swing changes and stuff, but it takes everyone at least a little while to get comfortable with it and I'm still trying to get comfortable with what I am trying to do.
"It feels a lot better. Today I focused more on the target, had a pre-shot rehearsal of what I was trying to do, then I tried the swing and it seemed to work pretty well."
Victory today for Murray -- ninth on the Challenge Tour rankings -- would copper-fasten his playing credentials on the main European Tour for next year, while Moriarty is still well on course for a place in the 45-man field at next week's Grand Final after a level-par 72.
- REBECCA COAKLEY posted a steady, level-par 72 in the first round of the Sanya Ladies Open at Yalang Bay, China. This left Team Ireland's top female performer in a tie for 17th entering the weekend, seven behind Stefanie Michl, who set the pace with a flawless 65. Martina Gillen opened with a 79, while Tara Delaney shot 80.