McIlroy and Molinari set up super Sunday at Wentworth

Rory McIlroy will enter the final round of the BMW PGA Championship in a share of the lead, after bravely battling his way back to a one under 71 to join Francesco Molinari at the top in the opening Rolex Series event of the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai.

The prestigious event at Wentworth Club is set for a classic finale as eight-time European Tour winner Branden Grace, defending champion Alex Noren, local favourite Ross Fisher and Ryder Cup legend Lee Westwood all wait in the wings hoping to usurp the two leaders and claim the famous trophy.
 
The 2014 BMW PGA Champion McIlroy did not quite hit the heights of Friday, when he carded the joint-best round of the week thus far with a 65, but he did bounce back from three dropped shots in the opening six holes to card four birdies in a bogey-free final 12 holes.
“It was a struggle out there today. But I’m proud of myself, I stayed patient.” Said McIlroy. “Actually, I’m feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday. I felt like I left a few out there yesterday and I felt like I basically did as good as I could have done today.”
 
“I’m looking forward to the final round. I’ll need to play better than today. All I wanted to do was give myself a chance going into Sunday and I’ve been able to do that. Hopefully that’s my bad round out of the way and I can play better Sunday.”
 
McIlroy was struggling from the off on Saturday and was three over through 6 holes but battled back birding the final two holes to card a one under 71.
“I think I need to go do a little work on the range to try to recalibrate and get some good swing thoughts back in my head.” Added McIlroy.
 
“If I get off to a good start, I think that’s the big thing. Being three-over through six is no fun, so if I get off to a good start tomorrow, that will be a positive way to start the fourth round and hopefully challenge for the title.”
 
The four-time Major winner is joined at the top by Francesco Molinari on 13 under par after the Italian carded the round of the day in breezy conditions with a flawless 66, which earned him a share of the third round lead at an event in which he finished runner-up just 12 months ago.
“It was great, especially today.” Said Molinari. “Obviously the conditions were very different, it was a tough challenge today with the breeze. It was gusting and it wasn’t easy so it was nice to keep a clean scorecard – I hit the ball great. I even missed a few short putts on the first nine or ten holes, but I’m in a great position, so I’m really pleased with today.
“I just love playing here. Clearly it suits my eye and I just enjoy the atmosphere. The crowds are always great. It is a challenging course but I think if you hit good shots, you can make a few birdies here and there. I love it, and hopefully it will be another good day tomorrow.”
 
The man who stormed to a dramatic victory on that occasion was Noren, who carded five birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey in his final seven holes on the way to a third round 70, which moved him to within four strokes of the lead. The Swede overturned a seven shot deficit in the final round last year.
Fisher, meanwhile, finished birdie-eagle on the West Course to rapturous cheers and a four under 68 earned him a share of third position alongside Noren, Englishman Sam Horsfield and South African Grace, a Rolex Series winner already at last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
 
Former World Number One Westwood was a shot further back on eight under par after a three under 69 and he was joined in sixth place by Finn Mikko Korhonen, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Frenchman Sébastien Gros and Englishman Sam Horsfield.
 
Of the other two Irish to make the cut, Shane Lowry carded a third round of 70 to sit on -6 in a tie for 16th.
“I am hoping to shoot a low one Sunday,” said Lowry.
“I shot a 64 here back when Rory won in 2014 and I feel like I have played well over these first three days and six-under is the worst score I could have posted.”
Graeme McDowell sits one shot further back from Lowry in a tie for 22nd on -5.
 
The final round will tee off earlier than normal today as thunderstorms are expected for the afternoon so the leaders will tee off at the earlier time of 11am.
 
 
Scores after Round 3:
 
203 F Molinari (Ita) 70 67 66, R McIlroy (Nir) 67 65 71,
207 R Fisher (Eng) 71 68 68, B Grace (RSA) 69 69 69, S Horsfield (Eng) 67 68 72, A Noren (Swe) 69 68 70,
208 L Westwood (Eng) 70 69 69, S Gros (Fra) 69 66 73, M Korhonen (Fin) 68 70 70, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 69 71,
209 D Fichardt (RSA) 66 72 71, L Jensen (Den) 68 70 71, R Rock (Eng) 69 68 72, L Bjerregaard (Den) 65 73 71, M Kinhult (Swe) 74 67 68,
210 S Lowry (Irl) 69 71 70, M Wallace (Eng) 72 69 69, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 70 69 71, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 72 68 70, T Jaidee (Tha) 69 72 69,
211 G McDowell (Nir) 71 67 73, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 67 71 73, P Casey (Eng) 72 70 69, F Zanotti (Par) 69 69 73, C Wood (Eng) 72 68 71, R Ramsay (Sco) 69 71 71,
212 A Björk (Swe) 71 70 71, D Burmester (RSA) 66 73 73, B An (Kor) 74 68 70,
213 A Levy (Fra) 70 68 75, J Wang (Kor) 74 69 70, I Poulter (Eng) 74 67 72, T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 66 77, H Li (Chn) 73 66 74, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 68 74, M Warren (Sco) 71 72 70, M Pavon (Fra) 72 67 74, M Southgate (Eng) 69 72 72, B Hebert (Fra) 70 69 74,
214 A Saddier (Fra) 70 70 74, R Fox (Nzl) 70 73 71, H Porteous (RSA) 74 69 71, M Kieffer (Ger) 69 71 74, E Pepperell (Eng) 72 68 74, R Cho (Kor) 74 68 72, M Manassero (Ita) 75 66 73, R Bland (Eng) 67 75 72, J Dantorp (Swe) 74 69 71, B Neil (Sco) 71 69 74,
215 H Tanihara (Jpn) 69 72 74, G Green (Mas) 72 70 73, T Immelman (RSA) 71 68 76, A Pavan (Ita) 73 70 72, J Suri (USA) 74 67 74, D Lipsky (USA) 70 72 73,
216 S Gallacher (Sco) 71 69 76, J Kruyswijk (RSA) 73 70 73, T Detry (Bel) 72 71 73,
217 J Heath (Eng) 72 67 78, T Olesen (Den) 69 70 78, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 72 70 75, S Fernandez (Esp) 74 69 74, A Dodt (Aus) 70 73 74,
218 A Wu (Chn) 72 71 75, B Stone (RSA) 73 70 75, P Waring (Eng) 73 68 77,
219 N Bertasio (Ita) 68 70 81,
221 D Brooks (Eng) 70 73 78,