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McIlroy up by 2 in final round of PGA Championship


KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - In a year when no lead seems safe, Rory McIlroy is the man trying to hold on in the season's last major.

McIlroy began the final round with an easy par Sunday to remain the leader at 7 under in the PGA Championship, but Ian Poulter started with four straight birdies to pull into sole possession of second place, two shots behind.

Carl Pettersson was third at 4 under.

McIlroy finished his third round earlier Sunday, wrapping up a 5-under 67 after players returned to Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. The third round was halted by rain late Saturday afternoon.

Tiger Woods made a birdie on No. 2 to join a group of players at 3 under that also included Adam Scott.

McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, hasn't finished higher than 40th in a major this year, but he became the first player this weekend to open any significant distance on the field when he birdied the 15th and 16th holes toward the end of his third round. 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."

Poulter began applying pressure immediately, and his putt from about 20 feet for a birdie on No. 4 moved him to 5 under.

Jimmy Walker, Peter Hanson and Bo Van Pelt were with Woods and Scott at 3 under.

Woods trailed by five after a third-round 74, but he reached the par-5 second hole in two and then dropped to his knees after nearly making an eagle putt from about 20 feet. He settled for a tap-in birdie instead.

It was Scott who was in control at the British Open last month before bogeying the last four holes and losing to Ernie Els. None of the 54-hole leaders at the other three majors this year - Scott at the British Open, Peter Hanson at the Masters, and Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open - have held on to win.

"Obviously to have a good round and try and win requires mental toughness," Scott said. "I think this afternoon as it comes down to the back nine, especially at this golf course, is going to require everyone's skill to be at their best."

Woods will have a lot to do in the final round if he hopes to win his 15th major championship and first since 2008.

"I'm right there," Woods said after finishing his third round. "I was at one point six back, and we had a lot of holes to play, so I was very encouraged the way I dug down deep and got this thing turned around and gave myself a chance going into this afternoon."

In the morning, while playing the third round, Woods wasn't pleased with his drive on the par-4 15th hole. His club went sailing when he let go of it on the follow through, and the ball flew well to the right of the fairway, landing in a grassy, sandy area not too far from the beach.

He was able to recover, hitting a terrific shot to the green. He then came up limping for a few seconds before pulling what appeared to be some sort of prickly brush off the right leg of his pants.

Woods looked fine when he arrived at the green and two-putted for par.

"It got in both legs - well, left shoe, right shoe, and then in my right leg," he said. "It itched like hell for about a hole, and it was fine."

With a number of players finishing the third round Sunday morning, the final round was being played in threesomes off both tees, rare for a major championship.

It was the first time since 2008 that the PGA Championship didn't complete three rounds on Saturday. Some players had to go 36 holes on the final day that year, and Padraig Harrington wound up winning his second straight major.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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