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Rory McIlroy on fire in the desert after sizzling 62 as Harrington and Murphy make moves


Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the tenth tee during the third round of THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the tenth tee during the third round of THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the tenth tee during the third round of THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy believes he's still the best player in the world on his day and he looks determined to prove it in Las Vegas after carding a 10-under par 62 to lie just two shots behind Rickie Fowler heading into the final round of the CJ Cup at the Summit.

Down from first to 14th in the world over the past 15 months, the Holywood star went bogey-free for the second day running as he rode a hot putter and followed eight birdies with a closing eagle three from 20 feet to card the second-lowest round of his PGA Tour career.

"The big thing is I've played the last two days keeping it in the short stuff, and I haven't made any bogeys, that's huge," said McIlroy, who birdied five holes in a row from the second, then added another birdie at the ninth to turn in six-under 30 before following birdies at the 12th and 15th with that closing eagle.

"I said to Harry yesterday, I can't remember the last time I played a round of golf without a bogey and now I've played two rounds in a row, so that's nice to see.

"After the front nine, I did what I needed to do on the back nine. I probably felt like I left a couple out there, but I'm not going to complain."

Fowler, who has fallen from 43rd to 126th in the world over the past 12 months, shot a nine-under 63 to lead by two strokes from McIlroy on 21-under par as he bids to win for the first time in more than two-and-a-half years.

Mexico's Abraham Ancer shot 63, Robert Streb a 65 and Adam Scott a 67 to share third place, just three shots off the lead and McIlroy is looking forward to the final round battle after working hard on his routines and the mental game recently.

"It's an exciting day for me," he said of his hopes of winning for the first time since the Wells Fargo Championship last May in his first start after taking on Pete Cowen as coach.

"I'm working on a few things in my game. Not necessarily swing related, but more mental stuff, routine, visualisation, things that I've done pretty well this week for three days. It's exciting to try to do those things when you're under a little more pressure tomorrow and you're trying to win a golf tournament. So I'm excited to see how that goes."

Shane Lowry, who has opted not to play next week's Zozo Championship in Japan, shot 69 but fell one spot to tied 72nd on four-under.

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The Offaly man turned in five-under 31 but drove out of bounds and double-bogeyed the 10th, then bogeyed the 11th before getting a shot back at the par-three 16th.

On the PGA Tour of Champions, Pádraig Harrington took advantage of windy conditions and made an eagle and five birdies in a five-under 67 to give himself a chance of victory in the SAS Championship.

The Dubliner is tied for ninth on six-under-par at Prestonwood Country Club in North Carolina, just three shots behind Alex Cejka and Miguel Angel Jiménez.

"It was obviously tough conditions," said Harrington was five-under after eight holes in a round that also had two chip-in pars and two three-putt bogeys.

"I got off to a good start. Whenever it's windy like that, if you get a good start, you're kind of ahead of it, and you feel okay. Yeah, played some nice golf. Disappointed with the two bogeys, they were both three-putts on pretty decent approach shots, too."

Cejka shot 67 and Jimenez 68 as the wind dropped to leave them one clear of Bernhard Langer, Scott Parel, and Scott Dunlap on nine-under, and Harrington still has lots to play for.

"Maybe I've done a good enough score that I'll have a chance to shoot another one tomorrow," he said. "I'm told the best top-10 gets into next week. So something to play for, but hopefully, I'll be within touching distance in trying to win the tournament as well."

On the European Tour, Jonathan Caldwell is propping up the field with Grant Forrest in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters at Valderrama.

A six-over 77 left him tied 66th on 11-over as England's Laurie Canter shot 67 to lead by three strokes from Matt Fitzpatrick on seven-under.

But there was better news for Kinsale's John Murphy on the Challenge Tour as he recovered from a triple-bogey eight at the eighth and played his last seven holes in five-under to card a third successive, four-under 67 and move up to tied fourth in the Empordà Challenge at Empordà Golf in Girona.

With just one more event to go in the race to make the top 45 in the Road to Mallorca standings who contest next month's Challenge Tour Grand Final, 88th ranked Murphy knows he needs two good weeks to extend his season, and he's given himself a great chance.

At 12-under par, he's tied for fourth place, just four strokes behind Frenchman Julien Brun and England's Andrew Wilson.

Murphy (23) eagled the 12th, then birdied the 14th, 17th and 18th to break par for the 20th time in his last 23 starts on all tours.

Michael Hoey is tied 44th on four-under after a third-round 70.

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