McIlroy’s No. 1 title under threat by Rahm heading to Mexico finish

by | Feb 23, 2020 | 0 comments

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Rory McIlroy’s World No. 1 ranking is now under serious threat heading to the final round of the WGC- Mexico Championship.

McIlroy managed five birdies but also two bogeys in a third round 68 and is sharing fourth place at 11-under par as American Justin Thomas showed the way in posting a 65 to lead the maiden WGC of the year at 15-under par.

‘JT’ has got better with each round posting earlier scores of 67 and 66. He began and ended his third day in Mexico City with bogeys and in between, the American sandwiched eight birdies.

The duo of South African Erik Van Rooyen (67), contesting just his fifth career WGC, along with American Patrick Reed (67) share third place at 14-under par.

Spaniard and double Irish Open winning Jon Rahm produced a blistering new course record 10-under par 61 that included a stunning ace at the par-3 17th hole where Rahm’s tee shot took one big bounce before ending-up in the bottom of the cup.

The reigning European No. 1 celebrated dropping his club in delight and throwing both arms in the air, much to enormous delight of all those watching.

“I had just hit on 16 a three-quarter 52 wedge that landed 119, so I told myself let’s hit the exact same shot, and it landed three short, so I hit it 120 and it bounced in,” he said.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s just one of those lucky moments where you have the exact same shot afterwards and muscle memory to back it up with.”

Rahm shares fourth place with McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau and he can be assured to also throw both arms in the air should he capture what would be the 25-year old’s first WGC victory and the 11th title of his pro career.

And if Rahm wins in Mexico City and McIlroy should finish worse than a two-way T3rd placing, then Rahm will become the new World No. 1 though Rahm knew the answer to that question.

“There’s still a tournament to play, 18 holes so becoming No. 1 in the world would be a complete — it’s a consequence of playing good, so I have 18 more holes,” he said.

“If I do my job tomorrow, we’ll speak about that tomorrow.”

And McIlroy will get a close-up look of Rahm as he, along with DeChambeau, are grouped in the penultimate flight of the event.

McIlroy was given the day off in speaking to the media but then he cannot be ruled out of victory.

His third round was a mix of five birdies and two bogeys though McIlroy struggled after back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 in playing the closing six holes in one-over par.

Shane Lowry also birdied the 11th and 12th holes that got the Open Champion back to one-under par for his round though it was a difficult finish with the Irishman dropping a shot on 13, taking a birdie on 15 but making a mess of the par-4 16th in taking a double before a closing hole birdie.

It handed Lowry a round of a level par 71 to remain at one-under par but he dropped back to a share of 34th place.

And Graeme McDowell must already be counting down the hours until he gets back to his Orlando abode and put his feet up for a week after rounds of 76, 74 and 75 to be lying 70th in the 72-player field.

Full scoring HERE

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