Sport Golf

Wednesday 24 January 2018

'I am still in control' - McIlroy leads in final round

Rory McIlroy hits off the 18th tee during the third round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club
Rory McIlroy hits off the 18th tee during the third round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club

RORY McILROY will take a one-shot lead into today's final round of the USPGA Championship as he looks to win a second major title in four weeks and an incredible three wins in a row.

McIlroy was visibly not at his best for spells of last night's third round at soggy Valhalla, yet he showed his battling qualities to card a fine 67 to lie 13 under par, one shot ahead of surprise package, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, and two ahead of Rickie Fowler.

Phil Mickelson's second successive 67 means he too is very much in the mix, three shots behind McIlroy.

McIlroy, who finished with three birdies in the last four holes to banish a disappointing bogey at the twelfth, is aiming to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back majors.

The 25-year-old won his first two by eight shots and was six ahead after 54 holes at Hoylake but was happy simply to still be in the lead here.

"The guys got pretty close to me at the Open and today and I was able to respond on the back nine," said McIlroy last night. "It's not the biggest lead I've ever had but I am still in control of this tournament and it's still a good position to be in.

"I just knew I needed to make a couple (of birdies) coming down the back nine to keep the lead or at least be tied. The two birdies on 15 and 16 were huge. It's where I want to be, it's the best place to be in a tournament. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Ireland's two other remaining challengers found themselves in the familiar position of chasing their illustrious colleague. And neither Graeme McDowell nor Shane Lowry experienced much joy.

McDowell was always battling for length on a rain-sodden course where his average drives of 272 yards were almost 30 yards shorter than Lowry's. But he found a putting touch that had been less than fruitful over the opening two rounds to birdie the fourth, before a splendid 13-footer found the target for another at the short eighth.

A promising resurgence came undone, however, at the 13th where he ran up a wretched quadruple-bogey eight after two visits to greenside water. In the circumstances, a level-par 71, which left him one-over for the Championship, was creditable.

Lowry had the disappointment of a bogey start on the way to a 74.

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