Mcllroy seizes Honda lead, closes in on world’s No 1
PALM BEACH GARDENS RORY McIlroy moved within one round of seizing golf’s number one world ranking on Saturday as he claimed a twoshot lead at the US PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, who can supplant England’s Luke Donald atop the rankings with a victory, capped a four-under 66 on the par-70 PGA National course with a birdie from a bunker at the par-five 18th and had a 54-hole total of 11-under 199.
He was two strokes in front of Americans Harris English and Tom Gillis, with reigning PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, England’s Justin Rose and Brian Harman a further shot back.
McIlroy joined Gillis atop the leaderboard on 10-under with a birdie at the par-three 15th, where he landed his approach five feet from the pin.
Gillis then bogeyed 15, leaving McIlroy alone at the top.
US Open champion McIlroy then extended his lead with his closing birdie.
McIlroy also made two important pars, nearly holing out from a bunker on 13 and sinking a tricky eight-footer at 14. “They were two crucial holes today,” he said.
Gillis posted a 69 and English, a 22-year-old rookie, posted a 66 to join him on 201.
Bradley carded a 68 and Rose a 71 for 203, while Harman followed up his second- round 61 with a 69.
Former world number one Tiger Woods carded a oneunder 69 and was nine off the pace. It’s the second straight week McIlroy has had a chance to reach the top of the rankings.
He could have done it last week at the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship but fell in the final to Hunter Mahan.
“It’s nice to have the lead going into tomorrow,” he said.
“I have to try to focus on what I’ve been trying to do all week, which is hit fairways and hit greens and stay in the present, and not think about everything that could happen.
“I’ve just got to go out there and try to put a good number on the board.”Those poised to challenge McIlroy don’t include Woods. The 14-time major champion had the satisfaction of seeing a few putts drop at last, but not enough to mount a charge.He made the last of his three birdies of the day at the seventh, and had two bogeys. At 22, English is the same age as McIlroy but less familiar with the big stage. He won on the Nationwide developmental tour last year while still an amateur and stayed close on Saturday with a 10- footer to save par at 17.