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HOYLAKE, England -- If Rory McIlroy goes on to win the 143rd Open Championship, he'll likely point to the eagles he made on the 16th and 18th holes on Saturday as pivotal in that quest.

"I was sort of waiting for those holes," said McIlroy, who shot 68 on Saturday at Royal Liverpool. "I felt like I was driving that ball well, and if I could drive it on the fairway on 16 and 18 I knew I would have irons into the greens for my second shots.

"And to be able to make two 3s there coming in was very important and obviously sets me up nicely for tomorrow."

The first eagle came courtesy of a 4-iron from 252 yards and the second a 5-iron from 239. Suddenly, McIlroy was six strokes clear of the hard-charging Fowler after playing the par 5s in 5 under on Saturday.

"I just wanted to try and be as much ahead as I possible could," McIlroy said. "And that's why I was grinding over the putt at the last, just to try and finish off the round well. 

"I felt like those two shots in 18 deserved an eagle. I wanted to finish it off that way."

Rory McIlroy eagles No. 16 at The Open
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    Rory McIlroy eagles No. 16 at The Open

Rory McIlroy eagles No. 16 at The Open
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    Rory McIlroy eagles No. 16 at The Open

Rory McIlroy eagles No. 18 at The Open
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    Rory McIlroy eagles No. 18 at The Open

Rory McIlroy eagles No. 18 at The Open
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    Rory McIlroy eagles No. 18 at The Open

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