KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina (AP) -In a year when no lead seems safe, Rory McIlroy will be the man trying to hold on in the season’s final major.
McIlroy made back-to-back birdies late in the third round and finished with a 5-under 67, opening a three-shot advantage at the PGA Championship. Players returned to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course on Sunday morning after the third round was halted by rain late Saturday afternoon.
McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, hasn’t finished higher than 40th in a major this year, but he became the first player to open any significant distance on the field when he birdied the 15th and 16th holes. That was after he made five birdies on the front nine Saturday.
“I thought it was just a continuation of how I played yesterday afternoon,” McIlroy said. “I struck the ball beautifully from tee to green – same thing on Thursday, as well. Just one more round like that, and I’ll be happy.”
Immediately after the restart, Tiger Woods missed a 7-foot par putt to fall six strokes behind the lead. He rebounded a bit on the back nine but still trailed by five after a third-round 74.
McIlroy was at 7-under 209, three strokes ahead of Carl Pettersson, who shot 72 in the third round. Adam Scott (70), Trevor Immelman (70) and Bo Van Pelt (67) were another shot back.