| 11.1°C Dublin

'I have put myself in a good position' - Rory McIlroy in confident mood after tough third round at Bay Hill

Close

Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed par putt on the second green during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed par putt on the second green during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed par putt on the second green during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy will head into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational two shots off the lead after what was described as a brutal third round at Bay Hill.

None of the field shot a score in the 60s, but a fine long putt from England's Tyrrell Hatton on the 18th hole allowed him to open up a two shot cushion as he looks to land the biggest title of his career.

With tough pin positions and a challenging wind, the third round was a day to hold your nerve rather than make a move and McIlroy was satisfied with his battling display.

"It was pretty tough," he told Sky Sports. "There is not a lot of red on my scorecard, but I was just hanging in there.

"You just needed to play to the middle of greens, two putt and move on to the next. Just trying to make pars and picking off a couple of birdies when I could. There were a few chances I let slip by, but I made some really good saves so a 73 is not a bad score out there.

"I am enjoying it, I'm enjoying the grind. You are really having to think out there, think about the crosswinds and it's a little different to the golf we play every week.

"If you can hit fairways and greens on Sunday, anything in the red tomorrow is going to be really good. I have put myself in a good position going into Sunday and that is what you try and do at the start of the week."

Hatton conceded he was not playing his best golf despite his position at the top of the leaderboard, as he admitted he will feel some nerves teeing up on Sunday.

"I don't think anyone enjoyed today, it was just so hard," said Hatton. "The lead is nice but today proved two shots can go extremely quickly.”

"It was so brutal out there. The course could make you look stupid. You could hit not bad a shot and you would end up nowhere near. That is one of the toughest rounds of golf I've ever played. If you are not bang on it, you will be made to look silly.

"I am very pleased with how I dealt with everything. Normally, after the double bogey on nine,  I could lose my head and we could have had a shocking back nine. To finish with two birdies in the last three holes, I'm over the moon with that.

"It is a surprise to have the lead. That putt on the last hole is so quick. It was going eight feet past and I was shocked when it went in.

"No doubt I'll be nervous standing on the first tee for the last round, but that's why we practice and that's where we want to be. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm excited to see how I get on."

Online Editors