Rory McIlroy moves into contention with 65 at Bay Hill

World No 3 five shots off the lead after carding joint best round of the day

Rory McIlroy  plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard at Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard at Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy put himself in contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a seven-under-par third round of 65 to race up the leaderboard at Bay Hill.

The world number three had started Saturday morning at one over, some 11 shots off overnight leader Charley Hoffman, with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick two behind.

However, the four-time Major winner hit two birdies on the front nine and then five more after the turn, including three on successive holes from the 10th, to finish in the clubhouse at six under, a climb of some 38 places.

Kevin Kisner joined fellow American Hoffman on top of the leaderboard on 11 under after carding a four-under 68 to Hoffman’s 71.

McIlroy told the PGA Tour: “The conditions changed a little bit, because you were going out in the last couple of days when it was cold and breezy, which were tough scoring conditions.

“Today presented us with a chance to go low, it was warmer with not much wind and the course played a bit shorter as well, so you could take advantage of the par-fives.

“I just played better, held some putts, which was nice to see, and it was a score I had been waiting on, I felt like it was in there, I just had to put it all together and I did. Hopefully I can be in with a shout and then if I get off to a fast start tomorrow, I can be right in there, so I just have to keep it going.”

Rickie Fowler also matched the Northern Irishman’s 65 to recover from two over and leave himself in the mix at five under, which lifted the 28-year-old up 47 places.

It could have been an even better day for the American, who dropped an early double bogey on the par-four third hole, only to then sink three successive birdies to recover and complete the back nine in 35.

Fowler, the world number nine, picked up four more strokes – while also saving his par from the water at 11, trousers rolled up to the knees – and then landing an eagle putt on the par-five 16th.

“I swung well in warm up this morning, and felt this one was coming back where it needed to be. I just stayed patient and got a few to roll in,” said Fowler, who had started the day some 12 shots off the lead.

Kisner moved to the top of the leaderboard at 10 under after his opening nine holes, which saw the American pull back from a bogey on the par-three second to hit four birdies to turn at 33.

Fitzpatrick, though, struggled for consistency, as he dropped shots on the first, third and eighth holes, with two birdies seeing him through the back nine at 37, one over for the day at seven under.

Graeme McDowell shot a third round 71, to leave him two under par overall. His three birdies arrived on the fourth, 10th and 16th holes, hitting bogeys on the first and 11th holes.

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