McIlroy pulls away at The Open Championship
Holds six-shot lead as he eyes third leg of career Grand Slam
July 19, 2014
- Rory McIlroy had eagles on Nos. 16 and 18 during Saturday's third round. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy entered the weekend with a four-shot lead at Hoylake. After a surgical 4-under 68 on Saturday, he added to it and will enter Sunday’s final round with a commanding six-shot cushion, as well as the third leg of the career Grand Slam in his sights.
“It was a day of patience for me,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t get off to the best of starts. I knew that there were some good chances coming up. Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 were playing more difficult than Friday. I knew on the back nine we could make up some ground.”
McIlroy’s round began with a bogey on No. 1, but it was nothing more than a blip when looking at his overall round. He made up for the bogey with a birdie at No. 5, then did the most damage on the back nine.
After McIlroy made bogey on No. 12, he found himself tied for the lead with a hard-charging Rickie Fowler. A flurry followed that saw McIlroy pull away from the field. He turned it on with a birdie on No. 14 before rolling in a 20-footer for eagle on No. 16. Just like that, he held a five-shot lead over Fowler and Sergio Garcia.
“This is where the golf course plays into my hands,” McIlroy said, referring to No. 16.
For good measure, he rolled in a 12-foot eagle putt on the closing hole to grab the six-shot lead.
“As soon as (the approach) left my club it was all over it,” McIlroy said. “It was pretty simple putt. I pured it right in the middle. It gives me a nice cushion going into tomorrow.”
Fowler finished with a 4-under 68 and is at 10 under. He will be with McIlroy in the final pairing. Fowler will be playing in the final group for the second major Sunday in a row.
Garcia is 9 under for the championship after his 3-under 69 and will be in the second-to-last group with Dustin Johnson (1-under 71, 9 under overall).
“I was trying to shoot as low as possible,” Garcia said. “(McIlroy) obviously had a great back nine and finished really, really well. We’ll give it a shot. If he plays like he’s been playing, it’s going to be difficult.”
Tiger Woods had five birdies Saturday but shot 1 over. He is 3 over for the tournament and tied for 58th.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday and is 1 under for the tournament. He is tied for for 34th.
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Rory McIlroy eagles No. 18 at The Open