Friday 23 August 2019

Strong finish puts Rory McIlroy in contention at the top of the leaderboard after two-shot penalty reprieve

Rory McIlroy still in contention heading into the final round of The Northern Trust (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy still in contention heading into the final round of The Northern Trust (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Rory McIlroy will head into the final round of The Northern Trust event four shots off the lead as he declared 'common sense prevailed' after his two shot penalty from Friday was rescinded by tournament officials.

Birdies on the 16th and 17th holes of his third round means McIlroy heads into the final round four shots off a lead held by Patrick Reed, with the Irishmen believing he can content for the title on Sunday.

"Actually, I am satisfied with how I played," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "It was a struggle out there. It's windy and it's tough to hit the ball pin high, but it was nice to play the last three holes at two under and it keeps me in the tournament. I'm happy with how I finished.

"I think the wind is supposed to lie down on Sunday, so hopefully I can play a little more aggressively.

"I need to start hitting more greens. I've been chipping and putting too much this week, so I need to hit more greens to give myself some birdie chances."

McIlroy also welcomed the decision not to punish him after he tried to remove what he thought was a small stone behind his ball but, when he touched it, McIlroy realised it was just a clump of sand.

Players are not allowed to touch the sand around their ball if they are in a bunker and after McIlroy told rules officials what he had done, he was given a two-shot penalty.

But PGA Tour rules officials later reversed the decision and McIlroy welcomed that decision.

"Common sense prevailed," he added. "I knew that rule had been re-written this year, but I didn't want to hold the players up behind me and I didn't intend to do anything or intend to improve my lie. I was happy to be on the right side of that decision."

Brandt Snedeker was a big mover in the third round after his impressive 63, while Reed's round of 67 puts him in pole position to contend for the prize on Sunday.

However, McIlroy will believe he has a chance to get into the mix, if he can reserve a trend over the course of this season and find his best form in the final round.

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