Irish Open: Rory McIlroy leads weather-interrupted event at K Club

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy made the cut at the Irish Open for the first time in four years
Irish Open third round leaderboard
-9 R McIlroy (NI); -6 D Willett (Eng); -5 R Knox (Sco), R Sterne (SA); -4 T Hatton (Eng)
Selected others: -3 R Cabrera Bello (Sp), B Dredge (Wal), J Donaldson (Wal); -2 L Westwood (Eng), M Warren (Sco); +1 M Kaymer (Ger); +2 D Clarke (NI); +3 G McDowell (NI)

Rory McIlroy leads Masters champion Danny Willett by three shots after finishing his weather-hit third round of the Irish Open on nine under par.

Both players completed the final three holes of their rounds in level par early on Sunday morning.

Play was twice suspended earlier on Saturday because of a risk of lightning and thunderstorms and was finally called off at 20:30 BST.

McIlroy is chasing his first Irish Open win and a first victory of the season.

The world number three has secured six top-10 finishes so far this season, but is now in pole position for the £515,000 first prize at his home tournament, which is supported by his charity, The Rory Foundation.

Trailing by one shot after day two, the Northern Irishman found himself at the head of the field after birdieing the fourth, as overnight leaders Willett and Marc Warren both faltered.

Four-time major winner McIlroy led Willett by two shots when proceedings were delayed for the first time at 15:25 BST, and extended his advantage on the resumption of play almost two and a half hours later, picking up a shot at the 10th.

Masters champion Danny Willett
Danny Willett and the other later starters faced testing conditions for their third rounds on Saturday

The third round was suspended again after just 40 minutes of play at 18:25, before re-commencing at 19:55 for a final 35 minutes out on the course.

McIlroy ended the day as the only player in the field without a bogey on his card, with nearest challenger Willett dropping three shots in his 15 holes, while registering a solitary birdie at the fourth.

Scotland's Russell Knox and South African Richard Sterne start the final round in joint-third on five under.

England's Tyrrell Hatton is still well in the running on four under, while French pair Gregory Bourdy and Romain Wattel moved into contention by firing 68s - the best rounds of the day. They begin their fourth rounds on three under, as does Welshman Jamie Donaldson, the winner of this event in 2012 at Royal Portrush.

Warren was left to rue an error-ridden start to his third round as he bogeyed six of his first 10 holes, before recording a birdie at the 12th. He dropped a further shot on 16 in completing his round on Sunday morning, his score of 78 leaving him at two under, alongside Lee Westwood.

Martin Kaymer's hopes of challenging for the title appear over as the German Ryder Cup player is one over, with Northern Ireland duo Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell two over and three over respectively.

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