Wednesday 24 January 2018

Rory McIlroy recovers from early slip to stay in contention in Turkey

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Phil Casey

A moment of brilliance from world number three Rory McIlroy reignited his challenge for a fourth win of the year in the Turkish Airlines Open on Saturday.

McIlroy has targeted at least one victory from his three events in the Final Series as he looks to win the Race to Dubai for the third time in four years.

The 26-year-old was delighted with back-to-back and "stress-free" opening rounds of 67 in Antalya to lie four shots behind halfway leader Jaco van Zyl, but was far from happy with his opening 12 holes of the third round at Montgomerie Maxx Royal.

McIlroy opened his third round with two pars before three-putting the third from long range to card his first bogey of the week, although the four-time major winner promptly birdied the par-five fourth and holed from four feet for another on the sixth.

However, another bogey on the 10th saw a frustrated McIlroy throw his putter at his bag - and appropriately missing - after three-putting from 40 feet.

A birdie on the par-five 11th repaired the damage and the Northern Irishman then produced his best shot of the week so far, a stunning long-iron approach to the par-five 13th to set up an eagle from just four feet.

A revitalised McIlroy holed from 25 feet for a birdie on the 14th for good measure and at 14 under par was just a shot behind a becalmed Van Zyl, who had played his first 28 holes in 16 under but the next 20 in one over.

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat was alongside McIlroy on 14 under, with England's Chris Wood 13 under and former champion Victor Dubuisson 12 under with BMW PGA Championship winner Byeong Hun An.

Another chance went begging on the 15th, where McIlroy almost drove the green on the short par four but hit a poor chip and missed from five feet for birdie.

Playing partner Aphibarnrat made no such mistake to join Van Zyl in the lead and it became a three-way tie when Dubuisson, playing in the group behind, also birdied the 15th for his third in a row.

More to follow

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