Sport Golf

Friday 17 November 2017

McIlroy's redemption mission remains on course in Malaysia

A solitary birdie was all it took to keep Rory McIlroy out in front at the Maybank Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The Northern Irishman, who has responded positively over the last few days to his Masters collapse last weekend by contending for the title in Malaysia, had completed nine holes of his third round when bad light ended play for the day after heavy rain forced an earlier delay of three hours and 25 minutes.

"I felt I probably should have been a couple better," said McIlroy. "I hit a couple of good shots that if they went a foot either way would have been great -- the tee-shot on eight and second shot on six -- if they had just stayed.

"But it's okay. It's a solid start. I could have been two or three shots better off but it's obviously nice to hole that putt right at the end on the ninth and finish on a positive note. I've still got the lead but it is going to be a long day tomorrow.

"You've got to make every shot count out there. Twenty-seven holes in that heat tomorrow is going to be tough. I've got myself into a good position and that's all that counts."

The single shot he picked up came with a 10-foot putt at the 404-yard par-four ninth and it enabled him to claim a two-shot lead having started the day level with Alexander Noren of Sweden at 11-under par.

Noren's card was far more colourful than McIlroy's as he birdied the first, third and seventh but bogeyed the second and the sixth and ran up a double-bogey at the par-three fourth to stand one-over par through eight holes.

He was in a share for second place at 10-under alongside Gregory Bourdy of France, who fired seven birdies against one bogey to be six-under for the round through 14 holes, and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who was three-under through nine.

Play in the interrupted third round was scheduled to resume in the early hours as organisers remain determined to stay on course for a Sunday finish.

A major threat to McIlroy, however, may yet come from world number one Martin Kaymer. The German followed up two relatively unspectacular opening rounds with six birdies yesterday in the 15 holes he played, good enough for a share of fifth place alongside Chile's Felipe Aguilar at nine-under.

Englishman Simon Dyson, who had been a shot behind McIlroy and Noren at the end of day two, was two-over par yesterday to slip back into a tie for seventh, while Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who was tied for fourth when play was suspended on Friday, was level-par at the half-way stage of his third round to be in a share of ninth.

New Masters champion Charl Schwartzel survived the half-way cut by matching par over the first two rounds and was two-under par through 11 holes in his third round when play was brought to a halt.

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