Wednesday 21 February 2018

McIlroy: Don't rule me out

Rory McIlroy at the Valero Texas Open
Rory McIlroy at the Valero Texas Open

Rory McIlroy believes he can still have a shot at the Valero Texas Open title after ending the third round four shots behind leader Billy Horschel.

The world number two, chasing prime form ahead of the coming week's Masters, shot a one-under-par 71 in San Antonio as American Horschel retained his two-shot overnight lead. McIlroy was six under for the tournament going into the final round and in a tie for fourth place.

McIlroy said on the PGA Tour website: "For the most part it was just about trying to play smart ... and give yourself as many chances as you can. It was tough. I probably should have been a couple better but it's still a solid round and I still have a chance heading into tomorrow."

He added: "I felt yesterday was really good. Today was not quite as good but the wind made it tough to score. I feel like there's a low one in me for sure."

A late entry for the tournament, McIlroy shot a magnificent 67 on Friday and started his third round in a similar vein with two birdies in his first three holes. The round looked to be going against his plans after bogey fives at the fourth, 10th and 11th, before birdies at the 12th and 14th moved him back into contention.

Horschel opened with back-to-back 68s and a 70 in his third round, featuring five birdies and three bogeys, put him on 10 under, two clear of compatriots Charley Hoffman and Jim Furyk. Hoffman also went round in 70 with five birdies and three bogeys, while Furyk birdied the last, his fifth of the round too, to shoot a 69.

McIlroy was in a group of three on six under with Ryan Palmer, who had the best round of the day, a 68, and Bob Estes, who shot a 69. Palmer had four birdies in a flawless round, while Estes looked set to match him only for a bogey at the second last to peg him back.

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, whose last tournament win came on the Asian Tour in October 2010, was with Scotland's Martin Laird in a group of five on five under.

Jeff Overton, KJ Choi and Daniel Summerhays completed the quintet.

Harrington and Laird both shot 70s on Saturday. Laird had an eagle at the par-four fifth but also had three birdies and three bogeys. David Lynn was the highest-placed Englishman in the field on three under overall after a third-round 71.

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