Sport Golf

Sunday 18 February 2018

McIlroy keeps faint hopes alive

Bernie McGuire, in Akron, Ohio

Back-to-back birdies near the end of his third round boosted Rory McIlroy's faint hopes of victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. McIlroy birdied Firestone's 16th and 17th holes in hot and humid conditions and sign for his lowest round all week, a three-under-par 67 for a share of 10th place at seven-under-par.

However, three birdies in succession by Adam Scott from his 14th hole helped the Australian to a 66 and a one-stroke lead at 12-under. Japan's Ryo Ishikawa recorded a six-under-par 64 to move into second place with Australia's Jason Day (66) at 11-under.

McIlroy was awake at 5.30am due to the early start and although he birdied the second, he stalled in the steamy conditions with seven straight pars ahead of a bogey at 10.

But he then managed two birdies in succession from the 11th and despite bogeying the 15th, birdies from five feet at 16 and then a 30-footer at 17 helped his cause.

"It was a good day's work as I gave myself a lot of nice chances on the front nine but just didn't convert them," he said. "It was good after the bogey at 15 to pick up birdies at 16 and 17, and it would have been good to birdie the last, but I'm in a decent position.

"I feel as though I can have a good start and get myself into the mix."

Tiger Woods's odds of capturing a 15th Major worsened ahead of this week's US PGA Championship in Atlanta. He dropped further down the board after a poor driving display in a round of 72 for a one-over-par total.

Woods struggled with the driver and found just four of 14 Firestone fairways, on a course where he has captured seven of the 11 Ohio WGCs. And while the long stick proved unfriendly, so too did the shortest club in Woods's bag as he posted 33 putts, a respective six and four putts more than his first and second rounds.

"I didn't putt well again today but the iron game is back, and I started to get feel in my hands and just about every iron shot was on my number, which was great," Tiger said.

"A good reward now ahead of the US PGA is just to continue building. I just need to be more committed on my target lines starting off the tee shots because the ball doesn't move anymore. I need to put a good round together and let it build."

Padraig Harrington had two birdies but also three bogeys and a 12th-hole double-bogey in a round of 73 for a four-over-par total.

And Graeme McDowell says he's got his work cut out heading to Atlanta after dropping four shots mid-round in an eventual 75 to drop to eight- over-par, just two fewer than Darren Clarke, who rallied after two bad rounds with a 69.

"I need something to give me confidence going to Atlanta," said McDowell. "Something low, some good ball-striking, seeing some putts drop or something to draw on ahead of next week. I've just been a bit flat out there and when you're not at the business end it's hard to get going."

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