Rory McIlroy fires himself into contention in Boston

Four-time Major winner still finished frustrated as Ryder Cup wildcard race hots up

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the first tee during round three of the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the first tee during round three of the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

 

Suddenly it all began to click. And still it ended in frustration.

Rory McIlroy spoke last week of how he is trying to get back to swinging like he did when he was 16 and, with a third round 66 at the Dell Technologies Championship to get within four of the early third round leader Abraham Ancer, his plan was certainly working.

And yet, and yet. At six under par for his round with three to play – one of which is a Par 5 – McIlroy had the early third round leader in his sights but then came a wayward tee shot at the Par 3 16th which found the water and resulted in a bogey. And his failure to capitalise on the Par 5 18th, coming out with just a par, saw the four-time Major winner finish his round with a toss of his putter and a grimace of frustration, despite his best score of the week to move to nine under par.

At the PGA Tour’s only scheduled Monday finish due to the fact that it is Labour Day, scoring was good at TPC Boston where Bryson DeChambeau fired a third round 63 to further his claims for a Ryder Cup wildcard and also book himself a place in the final group at 12 under, one behind Ancer.

Alongside last week’s Northern Trust winner was fellow wildcard hopeful Tiger Woods with the two players widely tipped to partner each other in Paris next month. DeChambeau certainly stood up to the spotlight of playing with Woods while the 14-time Major winner left the course, like McIlroy, a touch frustrated.

A front nine of three under par had him moving in the right direction but then a bogey and just a single birdie on the way in saw him finish at seven under and six off the lead with a round of 68.

Woods plays his approach to the second. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Woods plays his approach to the second. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Woods has already spoken of how much he would like to partner DeChambeau in Paris and the pair certainly seemed to be getting on well on Sunday in Boston as they went head-to-head.

For McIlroy there has been a marked improvement this week in the poor wedge play which has dogged him all season and, coupled with some good putting, he has moved into contention in the second FedEx Cup playoff event.

The 29-year-old flew out of the blocks with birdies at the first and second before adding another at the fourth. His first bogey of the day came at the fifth after he failed to get up and down from short of the green but four more birdies would follow at the seventh, the ninth, the 10th and 13th.

McIlroy was on a roll and when he gets on a roll he’s a hard man to stop. In the end it was the water at the 16th which put a halt to that run but he still did enough to move himself into a position from which he could well claim a third title at this course on Monday.

McIlroy’s form will certainly please European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, as will that of Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Rose who go into the final round one and two shots off the lead respectively.

But the Dane might not be getting much sleep between now and Wednesday as he weighs up who to select as his captain’s picks. After Matt Wallace’s win in Denmark on Sunday – his third victory of the season – the Englishman catapulted himself into the reckoning for next month’s showdown with the US while Thomas Pieters will also hope he has done enough in Denmark to add a second appearance to his CV after his debut – in 2016 – was highlighted by the three points he won alongside McIlroy.

Hatton lines up a putt on the second green. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Hatton lines up a putt on the second green. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Ian Poulter is widely considered to be a certainty for a pick despite missing the cut in Boston this week while Paul Casey (five under), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (eight under) and Henrik Stenson (two under) have one more round on Monday to force the Dane’s hand.

After failing to qualify for Boston and opting against playing in Denmark, Sergio Garcia will have to hope his reputation and stellar Ryder Cup record is enough to earn him a pick.

Collated third round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour Dell Technologies Championship (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71):

200 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 66 69 65
201 Tyrrell Hatton 69 63 69, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 70 68 63
202 Cameron Smith (Aus) 69 66 67, Justin Rose 65 67 70
203 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 72 67 64, Kyle Stanley (USA) 70 67 66
204 Tony Finau (USA) 69 68 67, Rory McIlroy 71 67 66, Beau Hossler (USA) 67 69 68, Jordan Spieth (USA) 69 67 68
205 Tommy Fleetwood 69 65 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 68 68 69, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 68 68 69, Brice Garnett (USA) 70 70 65
206 Tiger Woods (USA) 72 66 68, Adam Hadwin (Can) 68 68 70, Matt Kuchar (USA) 71 69 66, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 70 66 70, Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 69 68, Peter Uihlein (USA) 69 71 66, J.B. Holmes (USA) 69 67 70, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 69 68 69, Keith Mitchell (USA) 73 66 67
207 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 71 69 67, Bubba Watson (USA) 72 68 67, Webb Simpson (USA) 68 63 76
208 Xander Schauffele (USA) 68 68 72, Alex Noren (Swe) 69 69 70, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 69 71 68, Paul Casey 69 70 69, Gary Woodland (USA) 67 74 67
209 Keegan Bradley (USA) 67 69 73, Dustin Johnson (USA) 68 69 72, Andrew Putnam (USA) 70 71 68, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 73 69 67, Stewart Cink (USA) 72 72 65, Russell Knox 66 72 71, Patrick Reed (USA) 71 69 69
210 Chris Kirk (USA) 67 73 70, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 71 67 72, Daniel Berger (USA) 73 71 66, Jon Rahm (Spa) 73 67 70, Russell Henley (USA) 71 68 71, Ryan Armour (USA) 71 66 73, James Hahn (USA) 68 72 70, Kevin Tway (USA) 71 67 72, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 72 72 66, Kevin Kisner (USA) 69 71 70
211 Brian Stuard (USA) 72 72 67, Jason Kokrak (USA) 72 70 69, Scott Stallings (USA) 73 69 69, Brian Gay (USA) 72 67 72, Brian Harman (USA) 68 72 71, Kevin, Chappell (USA) 69 72 70, Charles Howell III (USA) 69 71 71, Tom Hoge (USA) 73 70 68, Phil Mickelson (USA) 72 72 67, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 71 71
212 Nick Watney (USA) 72 71 69, Justin Thomas (USA) 73 69 70, Bronson Burgoon (USA) 74 69 69
213 Branden Grace (Rsa) 70 71 72, Jamie Lovemark (USA) 71 69 73, Ryan Moore (USA) 71 69 73
214 Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 72 72
215 Adam Scott (Aus) 71 71 73, Austin Cook (USA) 69 71 75, Andrew Landry (USA) 73 71 71
216 Charley Hoffman (USA) 73 71 72, Ted Potter, Jr. (USA) 74 67 75, Patton Kizzire (USA) 74 70 72
217 J.J. Spaun (USA) 74 68 75
218 Pat Perez (USA) 71 72 75
219 Jimmy Walker (USA) 70 74 75
220 Whee Kim (Kor) 72 70 78
221 Aaron Wise (USA) 71 73 77

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