Tuesday 6 December 2016

McIlroy takes three shot lead into Irish Open final day after weather-affected Saturday

Phil Casey

Published 21/05/2016 | 21:41

STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 21: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 21, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 21: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 21, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Tournament host Rory McIlroy will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open as he looks to claim a first win of the season.

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McIlroy had missed the cut in his home event for the last three years, but completed an error-free 70 in the weather-delayed third round on Sunday to finish nine under par at The K Club.

The world number three had lobbied for play to be suspended due to bad light on Saturday evening as he stood on the 16th tee, almost four hours of play having been lost earlier due to the threat of lightning in the area.

And although he failed to take advantage of that hole or another par-five at the 18th on Sunday, three closing pars were enough to maintain his lead over Masters champion Danny Willett, who completed a 74.

Scotland's Russell Knox and South Africa's Richard Sterne were four off the lead on five under, with South Africa's Jaco van Zyl and English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Southgate a shot further back.

Southgate had played alongside McIlroy and dropped four shots in four holes after two early birdies, but recovered well on Sunday with birdies on the 17th and 18th to card a 73.

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