Long way back for McIlroy as MacIntyre pulls clear in Canada

Mark McGowan

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Rory McIlroy recovered from Friday’s disappointing second round to post a five-under 65 and retain slim hopes of a third RBC Canadian Open title, but Scot Robert MacIntyre enjoys a healty 54-hole lead.

Needing to make up ground fast, the Holywood man started with three pars but a colossal tee shot on the par-5 4th left him with a short iron in hand and after hitting it to 19 feet, drained the eagle putt to kickstart hopes of a moving day surge. And it was just what the doctor ordered as he’d cover the remaining five holes on the front nine in -3, birdieing each of the three par-4s to surge to -5 on the day and close the gap significantly to the leading duo of MacIntyre and Ryan Fox who had yet to get the third rounds underway.

His momentum stalled on 10, however, as a slippery 20-footery for birdie ran six feet past and he missed the one back and dropped back to -6 for the week. Two more birdies at 12 and 15 would see him further close the gap, but after finding the fairway bunker on the par-5 17th, he was too aggressive with his second, catching the lip of the bunker and settling in the rough a long way from the putting surface. A hack out to the fairway, a lengthy pitch and two putts later, he’d given another shot back and par at the last meant he’d covered the back nine in level-par for a good day’s tally, but ultimately disappointing after blitzing the first half.

“I got off to a pretty fast start, three-under through five and five-under through nine. Wish I had made a couple more coming in, but overall a good day’s work and hopefully it puts me within touching distance going into tomorrow,” McIlroy said.

Yeah, honestly, once I turned in five-under I thought if I could play the back in three and get to 10-under for the day I thought that would be, I would have a really good chance then. So, a little disappointed not to pick any more up on the back nine, but definitely an improvement on today.”

Despite Mackenzie Hughes being well up the leaderboard and giving the local fans hopes of back-to-back Canadian winners, the support McIlroy received throughout the round was impressive.

“Yeah, it’s incredible,” he said afterwards. “I do, I feel like, I feel like an honorary Canadian at this point and the support I get here is amazing. I keep saying it, but just a pleasure to play in an atmosphere like that. The crowds are so good, they’re so supportive, so enthusiastic, looking forward to one more day of it.”

Shane Lowry shot a second-successive round of -2 to climb 19 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for 36th. The Offaly man made four birdies – two on each side – but undid much of the hard work with a double bogey on the ninth when a three-putt compounded the damage after finding the fairway bunker and being forced to layup short of the green.

Despite a nervy opening nine holes where he bogeyed three and made the turn at +1 for the day, Robert MacIntyre caught fire on the way home, reeling off three birdies and an eagle to play the four holes covering 14-17 in -5, to go from trailing to opening up a four-stroke lead with just 18 to go.

Playing partner Ryan Fox had made two birdies and an eagle in his opening five to race clear early, but he’d play his remaining 13 in +4 to end the day as he’d started. He now occupies a three-way tie for second with Hughes and Ben Griffin, with Tommy Fleetwood, Sam Burns, Trace Crowe and Joel Dahmen one further adrift at -9.


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