Monday 26 June 2017

Rory McIlroy endures disastrous start to third round of French Open

Rory McIlroy of Ireland plays off the 1st tee during the third round of the 100th French Golf Open on July 2, 2016 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, near Paris. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Ireland plays off the 1st tee during the third round of the 100th French Golf Open on July 2, 2016 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, near Paris. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy's bid for a second win of the season got off to a nightmare start as Lee Westwood continued his remarkable fightback in the French Open.

McIlroy began the third round in a five-way tie for the lead but immediately found trouble at Le Golf National, the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup on the outskirts of Paris.

The world number four enjoyed a stroke of luck when his wayward opening tee shot stopped inches short of the lake to the left of the fairway, although from an awkward stance on the edge of the hazard he could only pitch out short of the green.

From there McIlroy almost pulled his approach into the water and then duffed a chip from the fringe to run up a double-bogey six, which he soon followed with a bogey on the third after driving into another hazard.

The 27-year-old repaired some of the damage with a birdie on the fourth, but at three under par was still five shots off the lead held by Korea's Wang Jeunghun, who had birdied the second, fourth and fifth in pursuit of a third European Tour title of the season.

Westwood had set the clubhouse target on two under par after a 67 which was initially reported as a 73 after the former world number one was mistakenly credited with playing partner Thomas Bjorn's triple bogey on the 15th and double bogey on the 17th.

"I wondered why the TV cameras hadn't come rushing out when I was four under for the day," joked Westwood, who looked set to miss the halfway cut midway through his second round but carded a hat-trick of birdies on his back nine and fired six more on Saturday to lift himself into contention.

"On my 10th hole yesterday I holed from about 10 feet to not go six over par. You can change it pretty quickly by hitting some good shots and playing well around here.

"Now I'm two under, five under was leading and who knows what it will be at the end of the day? Maybe the wind will pick up this afternoon with a bit of luck and the leaders won't get too far away from me. I don't think any lead is comfortable around this golf course. There's danger and trouble everywhere."

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