Rory McIlroy within striking distance at Bay Hill

McIlroy seeking to end 18-month wait for at title at Arnold Palmer Invitational

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 16th tee during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 16th tee during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Henrik Stenson held a one-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler pushing into contention and Tiger Woods five shots back after the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Despite three bogeys Stenson stayed at the top of the leaderboard at 12 under par after shooting a one-under 71 at Bay Hill on a gorgeous Florida afternoon. DeChambeau, the second-round co-leader, hung on for second with a 72.

McIlroy, playing his best golf in the United States this year, was strong on a back nine which featured an eagle at the 12th. The Northern Irishman finished the day outright third at 10-under after a round of 67. Rose, warming up nicely for the Masters where the Englishman was runner-up last year, also made a 67, and with the American Ryan Moore (69) was a stroke back on eight under par in a group including Fowler, who managed a 70 despite dropping three strokes on the last two holes.

Woods, an eight-times winner of the event, birdied the 18th for a 69 and a share of 10th at 209. “That was a nice one,” the former world No 1 said of the birdie. “Maybe a low [score]tomorrow will give me a chance to kind of steal one.”

Woods is fresh from coming second at the Valspar Championship to Paul Casey last Sunday, by far his best performance since his return from injury. Some bookmakers went so far as to install him as favourite for the Masters, which runs from 5-8 April, after his fine start here at Bay Hill, but on Sunday he will need to emulate Casey’s success last weekend in posting an early clubhouse score that the overnight leaders could not match.

McIlroy, meanwhile, has gone 26 tournaments since his last victory at the Tour Championship in 2016 to win the FedEx Cup. He said: “I started the day just outside the top 10 and wanted to at least give myself a chance going into tomorrow, so it was a great day out there. I can’t really ask for much more.”

Collated third round scores in the USPGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida, United States of America) (USA unless stated, Irish in bold par 72):

204 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 64 69 71

205 Bryson DeChambeau 67 66 72

206 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 69 70 67

207 Justin Rose (Eng) 69 71 67, Ryan Moore 71 67 69

208 Talor Gooch 65 70 73, Charley Hoffman 71 66 71, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 68 68 72, Rickie Fowler 67 71 70

209 Bud Cauley 72 67 70, Tiger Woods 68 72 69, Grayson Murray 71 69 69, Patrick Reed 68 70 71

210 Chris Kirk 71 69 70, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 69 72 69, Ollie Schniederjans 71 71 68, Sam Burns 69 70 71

211 Brian Stuard 74 69 68, Jason Day (Aus) 73 71 67, Zach Johnson 69 71 71, Austin Cook 72 73 66, William McGirt 70 71 70, Jamie Lovemark 73 68 70, Sam Horsfield (Eng) 70 73 68, Billy Horschel 68 70 73, John Huh 72 73 66, Patrick Rodgers 72 71 68

212 Luke List 71 67 74, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 72 71 69, Keegan Bradley 72 72 68, J.B. Holmes 68 71 73, Sean O’Hair 72 71 69, Bubba Watson 70 70 72, Charles Howell III 72 70 70

213 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 70 72 71, Kyle Stanley 71 71 71, Aaron Wise 65 76 72, Chesson Hadley 74 70 69, Kevin Chappell 70 70 73, Harris English 72 71 70, Kevin Streelman 73 72 68, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 70 73, Curtis Luck (Aus) 71 68 74

214 Ernie Els (Rsa) 69 70 75, Brian Gay 73 71 70, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 76 69, Sung Kang (Kor) 78 67 69, Stewart Cink 72 70 72, Brian Harman 68 75 71, Brandon Harkins 69 74 71

215 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 69 75 71, Adam Scott (Aus) 73 70 72, Lucas Glover 72 71 72, Martin Laird (Sco) 72 70 73, Collin Morikawa (a) 72 72 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 74 69 72, Tom Hoge 71 70 74

216 Doc Redman 72 72 72, Paul Goydos 70 74 72, Davis Love III 73 71 72, Ian Poulter (Eng) 73 70 73, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 74 71 71, Kevin Tway 74 71 71, David Lingmerth (Swe) 77 68 71

217 Kevin Na 71 70 76, Haotong Li (Chn) 73 70 74,Beau Hossler 71 73 73, James Hahn 71 71 75, Jimmy Walker 67 76 74, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 70 74 73

218 Alex Noren (Swe) 71 72 75, Hudson Swafford 73 72 73, Tyrone Van Aswegen (Rsa) 72 72 74

219 Peter Uihlein 73 72 74, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 73 72 74

221 Russell Knox (Sco) 74 71 76

224 Ryan Armour 70 74 80

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