HOYLAKE, England — Rory McIlroy put a stranglehold on his third major championship with a 4-under 68 Saturday, heading to the final round of the British Open with a six-shot lead.
McIlroy gave up the four-shot lead he had at the beginning of the day, falling into a tie for the top spot when Rickie Fowler birdied seven of the first 12 holes.
But, in a lightning-quick turnaround, McIlroy rolled in a 35-foot birdie at the 14th and an eagle at the 16th. Fowler bogeyed both holes, suddenly falling back.
When McIlroy made another eagle at the 18th, he pushed his score to 16-under 200 for the largest 54-hole Open lead since Tiger Woods was six strokes ahead at St. Andrews in 2000.
Fowler settled for a 68 and was at 206 through three rounds.
The R&A went with an unprecedented two-tee start, hoping to get the round completed while under the threat of severe thunderstorms. The bad weather never materialized. There were a few brief showers, but the course along the Irish Sea was no match for the world’s best players — the greens softened by the smattering of rain, nary a stiff breeze to put some bite into Royal Liverpool.
“I think everyone was getting ready for a hurricane,” said Keegan Bradley, who shot a 3-under 69. “But it’s as nice as we could imagine.”
Fowler piled up seven birdies through the first 12 holes, pulling even for the lead. But he couldn’t keep it going, following up his bogey at No. 14 with an ugly bogey at the par-5 16th, one of the easiest holes on the course.
Fowler and perennial contender Sergio Garcia both finished at 10 under.
Photo via Ian Rutherford/USA Today Sports Images
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