Rory McIlroy has never been one for half measures at the majors. He’s either breaking a Jack Nicklaus record for the largest winning margin or struggling to make the cut. This week at Royal Liverpool he has been on fire and when he eagled two of his final three holes on Saturday for a six-shot lead it seemed impossible to catch him.
The Northern Irishman and Rickie Fowler went head to head during the third round, with the American making it to six-under for the round when he birdied the 12th hole. But McIlroy and his controversial driver were up to the task and, including a drop at the 17th, he made up three shots in three holes to secure a six-shot margin heading into the final round.
“Obviously the finish speaks for itself,” said McIlroy. “I was just sort of waiting for those two holes. I felt like I was driving the ball well, and if I could drive it on the fairway on 16 and 18, I knew that I would have irons into the greens for my second shots. And to be able to make two threes there coming in was very important, and obviously sets me up nicely for tomorrow.”
On the South African front Charl Schwartzel held it together for a Saturday 72 that’s put him into a share of seventh ahead of the final round. The 2011 Masters champion didn’t take advantage on a day when breaking 70 was a real possibility.
“I played really solidly on the front nine, unlike the backside. My front side, three birdies. I hit eight out of nine greens. And then I hit a couple of loose shots on my last nine holes,” said the 29-year-old.
Not that he’s been slacking: at the moment he’s up there with Jim Furyk and world number one Adam Scott on six-under-par for the week.
But the day belonged to McIlroy.
“I'm comfortable sort of leading the tournament," he said. "This is the third night in a row that I'll sleep on the lead. So I'm comfortable. It helps that I've been in this position before and I've been able to convert and I've been able to get the job done."