Rory McIlroy was delighted to see the fruits of his recent labour after firing eight birdies in a superb six-under par round of 66 on day three at the CJ Cup.
The Holywood star has been searching for form since the Tour restart and identified some key areas in his swing – particularly off the tee – that finally saw some improvements around Shadow Creek this week.
“I’ve been sort of complaining about my driving and off the tee, but this week’s been really good,” said McIlroy.
“I feel like I’ve made some good strides in my game this week. I’ve been working on quite a bit if you’ve got time to listen here. Sometimes the club gets — I take the club away and it gets low and around and behind me. My trail elbow, my right elbow gets sort of behind my rib cage, I get real deep and then I sort of feel like I have to get it back out in front of me.
“In the downswing, I have to throw it back, my right shoulder really has to throw back out to get — and then if I don’t do that and I drive with my legs, it gets even further behind me and I just get this two-way miss going.
“Just been trying to get the club a little more in front of me on the way back, try to get my right arm working better so it supports the club at the top and doesn’t get behind, and then from there it’s easier to make a good move through the ball and make the ball to go where you want it to go.”
McIlroy had entered moving day in the desert a full twelve strokes behind halfway leader Xander Schauffele but with the American slumping to a 74 on Saturday and McIlroy finding form, the Northern Irishman now trails a new leader in Russell Henley, but only by seven strokes.
McIlroy shares tenth at eight-under par with Henley out in front on 15-under, three ahead of a four-way tie for second with Schauffele joined by Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak and Lanto Griffin.
“I sat here yesterday and you said 12 behind going into the weekend. I halved it. Maybe, it depends,” was McIlroy’s somewhat unsure response as to whether or not he’s given himself a chance going into Sunday.
“It’s hard, because if we get another day like this, you know, sort of one of these courses where a good score is 66 and an average score is sort of 70, 71. There’s not much separation.
“So I would need to go out and shoot something — what am I, 8 under — maybe shoot 64 tomorrow and see where that leaves me. But it was a good round today, I played better. I did what I wanted to do and that’s all I can ask for.”
Shane Lowry also enjoyed some welcomed improvement on day three. Mistakes had plagued the Open Champion’s scoring over the first two days but he kept the bogeys to a minimum with just one on moving day while three birdies contributed to a two-under par round of 70 with Lowry back in a share of 45th place at even par.
Full scoring HERE