Rory McIlroy has put himself in a dominant position with one round remaining in the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club
Rory McIlroy has put himself in a dominant position with one round remaining in the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
The Ulsterman – who opened with two consecutive 66s – compiled a third-round 68 to head into the final round six shots clear of Rickie Fowler.
The R&A instituted three-balls and two-tee starts for the first time in Open history to counter the threat of storms and lightening – inclement conditions that simply didn’t materialise.
The result was a softer golf course, little to no wind and the best scoring conditions of the week.
Fowler was one of those to take advantage, and he birdied three holes in a row from the 10th to join McIlroy – who was yet to get going – at the top of the leaderboard.
Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, birdied 8 and 9 to move within a shot of the lead.
But the young American and experienced Spaniard simply weren’t able to maintain the pace, and fell back with some untimely bogeys on the back nine.
Unfortunately, their dropped shots also coincided with a McIlroy masterclass on the back nine.
The Ulsterman drained a long birdie putt at 14 before two imperious iron shots set up eagles at both 16 and 18.
The result was a third-round 68, a 16-under-par 54-hole total and a six shot lead with 18 holes remaining.
Fowler finished three rounds on 10 under par, one shot ahead of Garcia and Dustin Johnson, who bounced back from three consecutive dropped shots from the 7th with three birdies in his last six holes.
Victor Dubuisson carded a 68 to sit at eight under, Edoardo Molinari is alone in sixth after a matching 68 and the likes of Matteo Manassero, Adam Scott and Jim Furyk lie 10 back on six-under-par.
It remains to be seen what the weather gods will throw at the players tomorrow, but, given the way McIlroy is playing, you can’t help but feel it will take some divine intervention to deprive the 25-year-old of his first Claret Jug.