Rory McIlroy has that ‘look’ again in his eyes. The look that has earned him 23 victories around the globe including 14 on the PGA Tour.
While McIlroy finished joint runner-up in this year’s Open Championship, it’s been too long since the golfer affectionately known as ‘Rors’ did some serious roaring.
Rory McIlroy / Image from Getty Images
The current World No. 8 sounds excited and there was enthusiasm not only in his eyes but in his manners and his speech in a rain-affected BMW Championship.
McIlroy will tee-up early Sunday local time, weather permitting, heading into day four of the $9m event sharing second place on 16-under par, just a stroke behind European Ryder Cup colleague Justin Rose, who produced a 64 to lead at 17-under on the rain-softened Aronimink course in suburban Philadelphia.
McIlroy brilliantly regrouped after a ‘no frills’ second day 69, to grab a ninth hole eagle and seven birdies in his score of 63. His eagle ‘3’ at the par-5 ninth came after he had birdied seven and then for a third day running made a mess of the par-3 eighth hole, taking a double-bogey after two earlier bogeys.
“I was in between a 3-wood and 5-wood so I cut a 3-wood in there, I thought I left it a little far right but with the course softened-up, it landed up on the high part of the hill there, it stopped pretty quickly,” he said. “So, it was nice to hit that shot and obviously nice to hole the putt after making the double bogey on the 8th hole and, yes, it was nice to close out the front-9 like that.”
McIlroy’s inward half was blemish-free with birdies at the 13th, 16th and 18th holes that saw him head to the scorer’s hut in third place at 16-under par but when Xander Schauffele, playing in the last group, bogeyed the last, McIlroy found himself up into a share of second with a round to play.
“The putt at the last I said to my caddy, Harry (Diamond), it reminded me of the putt I holed in Abu Dhabi earlier this year up the hill left to right,” he said. “I guess I had good sort of good vibes and good memories and it was nice to see it go in. It was hit a little bit firm. No, it was very good.”
“Overall, I had missed a couple of short ones on Friday but today I made the putts I needed to while I also hit more fairways, that gave me more opportunities,” said McIlroy.
“But then it was a weird day as they put a lot of the tees forward and while the course was very wet from all the rain we had last night, if you didn’t shoot 65 you were losing ground.”
“So, it was just one of those days you had to stay aggressive.”
Tour officials also have moved the final tee-times forward to a 7am start (local time) for a second occasion this week due the threat of Sunday afternoon thunderstorms in Philadelphia. Players will tee-of in groups of three and from both the first and tenth tees. Should play not be completed the Tour indicated they will go to a Monday finish.
McIlroy is due to tee-up in the last group alongside Rose and Schaufelle at 8.50am local time.
“We will have to see what happens,” said McIlroy. “It does mean getting-up here early. I’ll be ready to play. I’ll be ready to go. I hope we play.
I feel like my game is in good shape and I’d love to get another crack at it out there and have a chance to take the lead but, you know, maybe that chance won’t happen until Monday if it goes to that the good thing is we don’t have a tournament next week.”
“If it is pushed into Monday or even into Tuesday we have the time. Hopefully the guys that make the decisions make the right one and we can play a full tournament.”
TOUR FACTS AFTER MCILROY’S THIRD ROUND
194 is his career-low 54-hole score (previous: 197/2012 Dell Technologies Championship) First time in career recording two scores of 63 or better in the same event Tied with Keegan Bradley for most birdies through 54 holes (20) 4 over for the week on the par-3 eighth (bogey-bogey-double bogey) One win (2012) and two additional top-10s (T4/2015, T8/2014) in seven previous starts at the event Five top-10 finishes this season, led by win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T2 at The Open Championship Following wins at the 2016 Dell Technologies Championship and TOUR Championship, went on to win the 2016 FedExCup
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