Rory McIlroy gets back on track at Scottish Open
Justin Rose and Marc Warren lead the way at Royal Aberdeen on 10 under
Rory McIlroy plays his second shot on the second hole during the third round of the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy declared himself happy with his British Open preparations after bouncing back from a familiar Friday failing in the Scottish Open.
McIlroy continued a worrying trend of following a superb opening round with a terrible second one at Royal Aberdeen, shooting a course-record 64 on Thursday and a seven-over-par 78 on Friday.
The 25-year-old responded with a more sedate 68 on Saturday to finish three under par and was happy to take the positives from the week as a whole ahead of the year’s third Major championship at Hoylake.
“I’ve shot 64 and a 68 on this golf course, which are two really good scores,” the former world number one said. “Yesterday was just one of those days where nothing really went right. I couldn’t get any momentum.
“It would be nice to shoot another good one tomorrow, but I feel good with my game and I saw enough positives in there to give me confidence going into the Open.
“I didn’t get off to the best of starts, being one over through two holes when you are looking to be one under, but after that I played really solid golf and didn’t put myself in much trouble.
“I feel much more prepared going into next week. Coming in here I was hitting these shots that I needed into the wind on the range and hitting them perfectly, but today I hit a couple that weren’t so good.
“Hitting them in practice and hitting them under the gun are two completely different things and being able to do that over the past three days and tomorrow as well can only help going into next week.
“It’s just about getting rid of these bad stretches of holes or these bad second rounds or whatever it is. If I can get rid of that, then there’s no reason why I can’t go next week and really contend.”
Justin Rose felt he had lost his game somewhere over the Atlantic when he arrived at Royal Aberdeen on Wednesday but four days later he will take a share of the lead with Scotland’s Marc Warren into the final round after a superb third round of 66 got him to 10 under.
Rose, who won the Quicken Loans National a fortnight ago, said: “I came here on Wednesday and felt absolutely horrendous but the last couple of days I have been finding my feet again and that’s part of the reason for playing here.
“Today and my second round at Congressional are two of the best rounds I have played all year. I’m really happy with the way the game has progressed throughout the week.
“It would be great to win tomorrow. I’m on a nice run at the moment and to keep it going would be fantastic. I’m still really enjoying the links golf and I think that’s what I came here to do, just keep playing the game and keep trying to work out the shots.
“But obviously there will come a point tomorrow where you have to win a golf tournament. I’m looking forward to it. I said at the beginning of the week, just to be in contention this week and sharpening your skills under pressure will be a fantastic opportunity going into the Open next week.”
Rose was in danger of falling off the pace when he managed just one birdie on the front nine, which was again playing the easiest part of the course due to the direction of the wind.
But the 33-year-old then carded a hat-trick of birdies from the 10th and recovered from his only bogey of the day on the 14th with two more on the 15th and 16th for a back nine of 31, the lowest of the day.
“I fell asleep on my second shot to 14 after a perfect drive and made bogey there but gave myself a good talking to on the 15th,” added Rose, who admitted a victory at Royal Aberdeen would continue his habit of winning on tough courses.
“It would definitely hold its own amongst the courses I have won on. That’s definitely been my M.O. recently; of the tournaments I’ve managed to win they have all been on pretty stout tests. I’d take pride in winning on a links course for sure.”
Warren has won twice on the European Tour, but the most recent of those was back in 2007 and the 33-year-old will have to blank out the memories of several near-misses since.
He bogeyed four of the last five holes to miss out on the Spanish Open title in 2013 and a month later lost a play-off for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but most famously squandered a three-shot lead with four holes to play in this event at Castle Stuart in 2012.
At 10 under par, Rose and Warren held a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, with England’s Tyrrell Hatton two shots further back after matching Rose’s 66.
Scotland’s Craig Lee also returned a 66 to lie six under alongside overnight joint leader Ricardo Gonzalez, who bogeyed three of his last seven holes in a 71.
Shane Lowry fought his way into the top 10 going into the second round, a three-under 68 moving him to five under alongside Pabo Larrazábal and Mikko Ilonen.
Darren Clarke is one under after a 70, with Gareth Maybin a further shot back after a 69. Pádraig Harrington (71) and Michael Hoey (74) are on one over.