Rory McIlroy makes two eagles, leads British Open by six
Rory McIlroy looked like he was in for a fight, then the back nine on Saturday at Hoylake happened. This thing is probably over.
For a while on Saturday it looked as if Rory McIlroy was going to hand the tournament (and its drama) over to the fans and let Rickie Fowler in the mix for a Sunday afternoon duel.
Fowler tied McIlroy after birdieing seven of his first 12 holes which McIlroy played in just even par. And it really could have been even worse.
"I knew. I could hear the cheers up in front," said McIlroy to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi in reference to Fowler's charge.
McIlroy made long par putt after long par putt while trying to gather his usually-reliable swing down the stretch.
"It was a day for patience from me because I didn't get off to the best of starts," McIlroy told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.
Then it all came at once.
"Then I knew on the back nine we had a few holes downwind and we had a chance to make some ground up again," said McIlroy.
Fowler bogeyed three of his last five holes and McIlroy finished birdie-par-eagle-bogey-eagle to push the lead to six with a 68.
Yes, two eagles in the last three holes. And they were clinical.
Here's a look at the one on No. 16, a hole Fowler bogeyed:
And here's the approach on No. 18. that was embarrassingly good and led to his second eagle in three holes and that six-stroke lead over Fowler.
Certainly McIlroy's birdie at No. 14 and closing eagles will get the headlines but what was more impressive was him repairing the breach in the dam in the first 13 holes.
It was vintage, dare I say, Tiger Woods in that he called upon his flat stick over and over to bail him out from a bad round.
Then his swing came and the eagles started flying in. It helped that Fowler (and others) were banging on the door, I think. Rory kept pulling driver when he could have gone conservative and he kept hitting the thing 340 yards.
Now we turn to Sunday where likely all that awaits is an 18-hole walk into the history books.
Here's what's at stake:
- The Open scoring record of 19 under (Rory is at 16 under)
- The Open total strokes record of 267 (Rory needs a 67 to tie)
- The only two men to win three majors since the inception of the Masters by age 25 are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods
- Only 16 golfers have ever won three of four majors
"It's just about trying to control yourself and control your emotions. It's a huge day in my career and I feel like I'm up to the task," said McIlroy.
Of course this could go the other way. No golfer has ever lost when leading this tournament by six or more heading to the final 18.
So no matter what happens with Rickie and Rory on Sunday, you know history will be made.
It sort of feels like we're already seeing it.
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