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Rory McIlroy has been chasing golf's holy grail at St. Andrews for more than a decade. He lost his way in the wind at The Open here in 2010. His mission in 2015 failed before it started because of the ankle injury he sustained playing soccer with friends. This time around his quest could have been lost in the sand, or derailed between a rock and a hard place. But unlike previous attempts, this one is going to plan.
St Andrews: Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland will enter the final day of The 150th Open tied at the top of the leaderboard after going toe-to-toe across a sensational Saturday at St Andrews.
The pair each recorded superb 66s to take themselves to 16-under-par, four shots clear of Cameron Smith and Cameron Young, and lay the foundations for a final-day shootout reminiscent of the Duel in the Sun in 1977.
The European duo went out as the penultimate group but were soon setting the pace, Hovland recording four consecutive birdies between holes 3 and 6 to leapfrog overnight leader Smith.
McIlroy joined him in a share of the lead with a sublime chip-in for eagle from a bunker at the 10th and there was nothing to separate the two by the 18th green, on which both converted birdie putts to leave the final round tantalisingly poised.
Smith was unable to build on his day two momentum, a bogey on the 1st followed by an unwanted tour of the rough en route to a double bogey at 13 to leave the Australian playing catch-up but very much still in the hunt.
Young posted a 71 to keep his own challenge intact while his compatriots Scottie Scheffler (-11) and Dustin Johnson (-10) also remain in touch.
Si Woo Kim (-11) will play alongside Scheffler after carding a 67 and Tommy Fleetwood went one better to accompany Matt Fitzpatrick as the best-placed English challenger on nine-under, where they are joined by Adam Scott – who celebrated his 42nd birthday with a 70.
Shane Lowry became the first player for 21 years to make back-to-back Open eagles but his charge was hampered by three bogeys on the back nine, while Kevin Kisner threatened a course record by flying to the turn in 30 and eventually signed for a 65.
CAMERONS LEAD STACKED CHASING PACK
Cameron Smith scarcely put a foot wrong in setting the pace up to the halfway stage but the overnight leader was slower out the traps on day three.
His dropped shot on the opening green was his first since the 11th hole on Thursday and his putter lacked its usual potency throughout. Smith made 255 feet of putts on Friday – averaging more than 14 feet per hole – but regularly needed two from similar distances across his third round.
He dropped two shots at 13, as did Young on a tricky 16th, to leave both with plenty of work to do if they are to regain a stronghold.
DP World Tour | February 13, 2024
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