Open 2014: Rory McIlroy dominates at Royal Liverpool

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport at Hoylake
McIlroy's third round in 60 seconds
Open third round leaderboard
-16: Rory McIlroy (NI)
-10: Rickie Fowler (US)
-9: Sergio Garcia (Spa), Dustin Johnson (US); -8: Victor Dubuisson (Fra)
-7: Edoardo Molinari (Ita); -6: Adam Scott (Aus). Jim Furyk (US), Robert Karlsson (Swe), Charl Schwartzel (SA)
Selected others: -5: Graeme McDowell (NI), Justin Rose (Eng), Darren Clarke (NI); -1: Phil Mickelson (US); +3: Tiger Woods
Clubhouse scores in fullexternal-link

Rory McIlroy will take a six-shot lead over American Rickie Fowler into the final round of the Open after an absorbing day at Hoylake.

Open 2014: Rickie Fowler challenges - top five shots

McIlroy, bidding for a third major title and first Claret Jug, fired 68 to surge to 16 under after brushing off a short-lived back-nine challenge from fellow 25-year-old Fowler, who also shot 68.

Spain's Sergio Garcia (69) and American Dustin Johnson (71) were tied third at nine under, with Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (68) eight under.

Three-time Open winner Tiger Woods shot 73 to end the day three over, defending champion Phil Mickelson (71) was one under and world number one Adam Scott (69) of Australia was six under.

Record-breaking Rory
McIlroy's 197 strokes is a new 54-hole record at Royal Liverpool, beating the previous mark by three.
Greg Norman's winning score of 267 at Royal St George's in 1993 is the lowest score shot at the Open. The 'Great White Shark' hit rounds of 66, 68, 69 and 64. A 66 from McIlroy on Sunday would beat it.

England's Justin Rose, Scotland's Marc Warren and Northern Ireland pair Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell ended in a group on five under.

McIlroy was tied with Fowler - chasing a first major title after finishing runner-up to Martin Kaymer at the US Open last month - at 12 under after 13 holes but eagles at the 16th and 18th helped him to the biggest 54-hole advantage at the Open since Woods led by six in his 2000 victory at St Andrews.

Clarke holes 'crackerjack' birdie

"I knew Rickie was playing well in front and then I saw on 12 he got to within one of me and then I bogeyed the hole and it was tied," said McIlroy.

"But I never panicked. I didn't feel uncomfortable. I knew I had some holes coming up I could take advantage of and make some birdies.

"I was just very patient and waited for my chances and I was able to convert those."

Victory for McIlroy on Sunday would see him join Jack Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to win three majors by the age of 25.

The Northern Irishman, who would join Mickelson as current players to have won three of the four major titles, broke a host of scoring records and won by eight shots when he landed his maiden major, the US Open, in 2011. And he also triumphed by a record margin of eight shots at the 2012 US PGA.

Only five players have won all four majors in their career - Nicklaus, Woods, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. McIlroy famously went close at the Masters in 2011 before blowing a four-shot lead on the final day.

While McIlroy finished in commanding fashion on Saturday, his round got off to an ignominious opening after the Open's first-ever two-tee start was initiated in response to forecast thunderstorms.

Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler
Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler have both become established pros since this appearance at the 2007 Walker Cup

A scrappy bogey via the greenside bunker - and a birdie from playing partner Johnson - saw his four-shot overnight lead halved in a flash. Fowler also made a fast start with two opening birdies to signal the chase was on, as the electrical activity held off and the rain-softened course offered perfect scoring conditions.

McIlroy steadied himself and got back to 12 under with a first birdie on the long fifth but ahead of him Fowler got to within two shots with a fourth birdie of his round at the short sixth.

The American bogeyed the next but birdies on the 10th and 11th moved him within one before McIlroy hit back, firing his approach to five feet on the 11th and sinking the putt to get back to two clear of Fowler, who he first encountered as an amateur in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down.

Former European Ryder Cup captain Mark James on BBC One:
"When Rory McIlroy is good, he is probably as good as anyone there has ever been. He has overpowered the course and taken a lot of bunkers out of play. He has had to hit driver to pretty small targets and that is not easy. He hits it 330 yards and straight down the middle. You can't play chess against someone with a machine gun."

When McIlroy dropped a shot on the 12th after tangling with the rough, Fowler - who had made the seventh birdie of his round at the same hole - was briefly level. But from then on, momentum swung heavily in McIlroy's favour.

A birdie by the Northern Irishman to Fowler's two bogeys re-established a three-shot gap, but the real hammer-blow came on the 16th where the first of McIlroy's eagles sent him five clear. And although he dropped a shot of his own on the penultimate hole, another eagle to close sealed a spectacular finish.

"This is the third night in a row that I'll sleep on the lead. I feel very comfortable leading the tournament," added McIlroy.

"It helps that I've been in this position before and I've been able to get the job done."

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy's tee shot on the par three ninth hit a TV truck which moved, allowing the 25-year-old to make par
Darren Clarke is five under for the Championship after a round of 67
Darren Clarke is five under for the Championship after a round of 67
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson, second overnight, could not capitalise on his 65 on Friday, shooting 71 to lie seven behind McIlroy

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