Rory McIlroy shoots tough 67, still leads PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy was beaten and bruised when he emerged from the pile on Saturday evening, but he still emerged with the lead.
This is not your older brother's Rory McIlroy.
Your older brother's Rory (and your older brother must not be that much older than you) cruised to major wins. This Rory McIlroy was abused with haymakers from every direction on Saturday at Valhalla.
There was Jason Day throwing jab after jab as his playing partner. There was Rickie Fowler, the smooth, cool underdog slipping in a few roundhouses. There was the unknown kid who called Phil Mickelson his hero after his round, Bernd Wiesberger even getting in a couple of blows.
And there was Rory McIlroy punching the air on No. 18 through it all emerging bruised but with space between him and the would-be contenders.
"Yeah, it wasn't as easy as I expected it to be out there today," he said. "You know, they tucked a few pins away, and obviously playing with the lead, as well, you maybe can't play with the freedom as if you're chasing. But really happy with how I finished."
McIlroy went into the ring without his stuff on Saturday and somehow escaped with a third-round 67, good enough for a one-stroke lead over Wiesberger, two over Fowler, and three over Mickelson and Day.
"I knew I needed to do something in the last few holes and to pull a few birdies out like that was really pleasing. Happy that I kept the lead going into tomorrow."
Here's a look at his scorecard:
He closed just like he did during the third round at Hoylake -- like a boss. He made three birdies over his last three holes including this jewel at No. 15:
His game, prodigious as it is, is even starting to impress his fellow pros. Both Luke Donald and Ian Poulter tweeted after his final three holes that they were blown away:
Hmmm drive and a 9 iron into 16 #wow— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) August 9, 2014
That is a true driving exhibition from @McIlroyRory 330 on the fly down the middle. Game looks easy.... Hahahaha— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) August 9, 2014
It doesn't hurt that he's built more like a tank than the pudgy kid of yesteryear, your older brother's Rory McIlroy.
Rory, jacked. pic.twitter.com/u78goGD1Zt— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) August 9, 2014
So now he goes for No. 4 on Sunday. His fourth major championship, all before the age of 26. He's trying to join the ranks of just 17 other men in the modern era to accomplish the feat.
"I feel like I'm really confident right now no matter who is on that leaderboard," said McIlroy late in the evening on Sunday.
If Saturday is any indication it's going to be a hell of a fight to swipe it from him.
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