Rory McIlroy finds himself three shots off the lead after a ‘Longhorn City’ stampede for the front on day three of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
McIlroy was just two shots off the lead at nine-under par through two days but a ‘moving day’ one-under par 69 sees the World No. 1 heading into day four just inside the top-10 at 10-under par in the first Tour event in some three months.
American Xander Schauffele birdied the last in a second straight four-under par 66 to move to 13-under par and break free of a log-jam at 12-under par in the $US 7.5m event being held on the Colonial Club course.
The World No. 12 is chasing a fifth Tour victory and his first in some 18 months.
Five players – Gary Woodland (66), Branden Grace (66), Justin Thomas (66), Collin Morikawa (67) and Jordan Spieth (68) – are locked in second at 12-under par.
McIlroy and former Fort Worth winner Justin Rose (68) are in a group a shot further back.
McIlroy kick-started his third day with a birdie at the first to be now four-under on the easiest hole on the course but he stalled over the next five holes with pars and then headed to the turn at one-over for his round having bogeyed the par-4 seventh and the par-3 eighth holes.
For a first occasion in three rounds, McIlroy birdied the par-5 11th hole after finding a right greenside bunker with his second shot before splashing out to six-feet and holing the putt.
McIlroy then got back to one-under for his round with a 23-foot gem for birdie at the par-14th and eventually worked his way to within two shots of the lead before confirmation in being three behind ahead of the final day.
“I started pretty similar to the first day, a little scrappy,” said McIlroy.
“I birdied the two par-5s and one other hole. I had a couple of loose iron shots on the 7th and the 8th, which cost me bogeys there. But yeah, I guess I didn’t feel like I played very well today, but looking at the leaderboard, no one else really pulled away.
“I’m still going to be within striking distance going into tomorrow. If that’s a bad day out of the way, then hopefully I can post a good one tomorrow.”
Full scoring HERE