Rory McIlroy storms into US Open contention with 67 at Torrey Pines

Northern Irishman two shots behind leaders Oosthuizen, Hughes and Henley

Rory McIlroy reacts after saving par on the 15th hole during the third round of the  US Open at Torrey Pines. Photograph:  Harry How/Getty

Rory McIlroy reacts after saving par on the 15th hole during the third round of the US Open at Torrey Pines. Photograph: Harry How/Getty

 

A decade after winning his maiden major title in the US Open, Rory McIlroy stormed into contention for another victory at Torrey Pines.

McIlroy cruised to an eight-shot victory at Congressional in 2011, just two months after blowing a four-stroke lead in the Masters following a final round of 80 at Augusta National.

The Northern Irishman went on to win the US PGA Championship in 2012 and the Open and US PGA in 2014, but has not won a major since and had been a combined 35 over par in the first round of golf’s biggest events before an opening 70 in San Diego.

A second round of 73 left McIlroy six shots off the pace at the halfway stage, but a 67 on Saturday lifted him to three under par, just two behind leaders Louis Oosthuizen, Mackenzie Hughes and Russell Henley.

Former British Open champion Oosthuizen holed from 50 feet for an eagle on the 18th in his 70, while Hughes carded a 68 and halfway joint-leader Henley returned a 71.

McIlroy covered his first 10 holes in two under par and, although he missed a good chance on the 11th, the former world number one made amends in style, chipping in from short of the green for an unlikely gain on the next.

The 32-year-old then amazingly hit the pin with his approach to the 13th from 260 yards, but did well to two-putt from long range for birdie, only to then pull his drive on the 15th into a ravine.

Following a penalty drop, McIlroy was still left with 240 yards to the green and came up short with his third shot, but hit a superb pitch to five feet and holed the putt to limit the damage.

After saving par from a greenside bunker on the 16th, McIlroy parred the 17th and then birdied the par-five 18th to boost his chances of ending his frustrating major drought.

Asked about the prospect of winning another major on the 10th anniversary of his maiden victory, McIlroy told Sky Sports: “It would mean an awful lot. I am just so happy that I’ve given myself another chance.

“It feels like a while since I’ve had a chance to win a major championship going into a Sunday and it was great to play a round of golf today to give myself that chance.

“It’s not going to be quite as easy as it was 10 years ago, but my game feels good and a round like today proves I can go out there again and try to do the same thing tomorrow.”

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau was alongside McIlroy on three under following a 68, with pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Matthew Wolff another stoke adrift.

World number one Dustin Johnson was part of a five-strong group on one under, with Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka all on level par.

“Conditions were perfect for golf, slightly overcast, slight little wind,” Casey told Sky Sports after his 67.

“I don’t think the course is any different (from the first two days). I think we’ve seen today some more accessible pin positions, a couple of tees have been moved up.

“I drove it brilliantly the first two days and didn’t really capitalise on how I struck it. I didn’t have the speed down with the putter and today was the first day where I felt like I had touch on these greens.”

England’s Richard Bland held a share of the halfway lead but struggled to a 77 on Saturday to fall six shots off the pace.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry is tied 44th after a round of 72 on Saturday left him on five over par.

US Open Collated Collated third round scores & totals

(USA unless stated, Par 71):
208 Russell Henley 67 70 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 73 67 68, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 67 71 70
210 Bryson DeChambeau 73 69 68, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 70 73 67
211 Jon Rahm (Spa) 69 70 72, Scottie Scheffler 72 69 70, Matthew Wolff 70 68 73
212 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 72 70 70, Dustin Johnson 71 73 68, Collin Morikawa 75 67 70, Xander Schauffele 69 71 72, Kevin Streelman 71 69 72
213 Paul Casey (Eng) 71 75 67, Harris English 72 70 71, Sung Jae Im (Kor) 72 72 69, Brooks Koepka 69 73 71, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 76 69, Ian Poulter (Eng) 74 71 68, Justin Thomas 73 69 71
214 Chris Baker 74 71 69, Richard Bland (Eng) 70 67 77, Lanto Griffin 76 69 69, Brian Harman 72 71 71, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 77 68 69, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 71 70 73, Jordan Spieth 77 69 68, Lee Westwood (Eng) 71 72 71
215 Daniel Berger 71 72 72, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 75 69 71
216 Patrick Cantlay 70 75 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 72 70 74, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 69 74 73, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 71 75 70, Robert MacIntyre (Sco) 71 73 72, J. T. Poston 72 73 71, Chez Reavie 76 68 72, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 71 74 71, Adam Scott (Aus) 70 75 71, Bubba Watson 72 67 77
217 Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 75 72, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 73 72 72, Adam Hadwin (Can) 70 72 75, Dylan Wu 70 73 74
218 Rafael Cabrera (Spa) 68 76 74, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 71 74 73, Charley Hoffman 72 71 75, Kevin Kisner 73 73 72, Shane Lowry (Irl) 72 74 72, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 70 76 72, Patrick Rodgers 70 71 77, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 75 69 74, Gary Woodland 74 71 73
219 Akshay Bhatia 73 73 73, Stewart Cink 73 72 74, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 72 73 74, Tom Hoge 72 71 76, Marc Leishman (Aus) 74 70 75, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 69 76 74, Troy Merritt 75 71 73, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 72 74 73, Patrick Reed 72 73 74
220 Rick Lamb 71 75 74, Phil Mickelson 75 69 76, Taylor Montgomery 70 76 74, Greyson Sigg 71 74 75
222 Matt Jones (Aus) 72 71 79, Kyle Westmoreland 71 73 78
223 Jimmy Walker 74 72 77
224 Fabian Gomez (Arg) 70 76 78
226 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 72 74 80

Selected Tee-Off Times on Sunday

(USA unless stated, Irish time)
4.53pm Kevin Kisner, Shane Lowry (Irl)
7.05pm Martin Kaymer (Ger), Jordan Spieth
7.16pm Harris English, Justin Thomas
7.27pm Sung Jae Im (Kor), Brooks Koepka
7.38pm Francesco Molinari (Ita), Ian Poulter (Eng)
7.49pm Paul Casey (Eng), Kevin Streelman
8.00pm Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Xander Schauffele
8.11pm Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa
8.22pm Jon Rahm (Spa), Matthew Wolff
8.33pm Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler
8.44pm Russell Henley, Rory McIlroy (NIrl)
8.55pm Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

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