Willett and Rahm three clear of field as McIlroy makes move with 65

Spanish star falters over closing holes at Wentworth as both players card 68s

Spain’s Jon Rahm  plays his second shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Spain’s Jon Rahm plays his second shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

 

Former Masters champion Danny Willett and Spain’s Jon Rahm share the lead heading into the final day of the BMW PGA Championship after a dramatic finish to the third round at Wentworth.

Rahm held a two-shot lead after playing the first 16 holes in five under par and enjoyed a major slice of luck on the 17th when his second shot was heading out of bounds before hitting a spectator.

However, the world number six failed to make the most of his good fortune by pitching to 10 feet and then three-putting for a six and was also just a few feet from driving out of bounds at the last.

After taking a penalty drop, another bogey looked on the cards, but Rahm holed from 20 feet for an unlikely par and Willett got up and down from a greenside bunker for a birdie to match his playing partner’s 68.

On 15 under par the pair held a three-shot lead over Justin Rose, Shubhankar Sharma and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, with Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Rafa Cabrera Bello two shots further back.

“Man, those last two holes made it feel a lot worse than it really was,” Rahm admitted. “I was really in control of my game and playing good.

“It was not the finish I was looking for, I might have lost a bit of focus, looking into the future instead of staying in the present but it doesn’t take away from how solidly I played when the wind was bad and when I still had a fourth shot into the last with a six iron and didn’t drop a shot.”

Rahm was among the players who waited beside the 18th green on Friday as Jose Maria Olazabal completed his 25th and final appearance in the event and the 24-year-old can join Olazabal, Seve Ballesteros, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ignacio Garrido and Manuel Pinero as a Spanish winner at Wentworth.

“A lot of the things I’m doing are dreams come true and time I can join a list like that is pretty unique,” Rahm added. “I have a chance tomorrow and am looking forward to it. It would mean a lot.”

Willett recovered from a bogey on the first with the aid of six birdies to remain on track for a seventh European Tour title and a first on home soil.

“This is our biggest tournament of the year for us British guys, it’s a massive event,” Willett said. “I’ve been here 10 straight years and I love the place. The crowds are amazing.

“I’ve won all around the world and it would be amazing to polish one off in front of a home crowd. It’s going to be a pretty tough battle out there.”

Rory McIlroy plays his second shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy plays his second shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

With bad weather forecast for Sunday, Rory McIlroy had not abandoned hope of a second remarkable victory after a superb 65 which equalled his lowest score at Wentworth and left him nine shots off the lead.

“I’ve done what I can and shot a good score and I’ll give it a go for sure tomorrow,” said 2014 champion McIlroy. “But at the same time I’m a realist. I know I won from seven back five years ago and I feel like that’s something that happens maybe once in your career.

“It’s amazing, I only took two weeks off but it felt like I had not played golf in years on Thursday. It was strange. But it has been nice to sort of figure it out a little bit, play a bit better yesterday. Obviously played much better today.

“At least I’m moving in the right direction, which is the main thing.”

McIlroy, who was in the second group out alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington, made three birdies in a row from the second and ended a run of six pars in succession with another on the 11th.

The 30-year-old then holed from 15 feet for an eagle on the 12th and birdied the difficult 15th before dropping his only shot of the day on the next following an errant tee shot.

McIlroy responded with a birdie on the 17th and needed another on the last to record his lowest ever score at Wentworth, but had to settle for a par after hitting his approach up against the hospitality pavilion which surrounds the green.

“I wish I’d holed that putt for a 64 but I’m happy with my day’s work,” McIlroy added. “I’ll get a bit of a lie-in on Sunday, which will be nice, but I might still be out playing when Ireland are playing [against Scotland in the Rugby World Cup].”

Harrington finished double-bogey, bogey to card a three-over 75 and slip back to four over but Shane Lowry moved in the other direction, a three-under 69 getting him to four under.

England’s Ross Fisher holed his second shot to the 18th for an albatross to complete a remarkable back nine of 29 and win a BMW i8 Roadster worth almost €150,000.

Fisher, whose 66 left him a shot ahead of McIlroy on seven under, said: “It was pretty surreal. I think we had 200 [yards] to the front, 225 to the pin, a perfect four iron. I thought I’d pulled it so I looked away and the crowd’s reaction told the rest of the story. To win the car is still a bit shocking.”

LEADERBOARD

British and Irish unless stated, par 72

201 Jon Rahm (Esp) 66 67 68, Danny Willett 68 65 68

204 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 71 67 66, Justin Rose 67 68 69, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 68 67 69

206 Richie Ramsay 71 68 67, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 70 67

207 Patrick Reed (USA) 70 70 67

208 Andrew Johnston 69 70 69, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 70 69, Andrew Putnam (USA) 71 67 70, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 69 69 70, Paul Casey 68 69 71, Billy Horschel (USA) 72 65 71

209 Ross Fisher 70 73 66, Paul Waring 70 71 68, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 66 69 74

210 Kurt Kitayama (USA) 71 71 68, Rory McIlroy 76 69 65, Alex Noren (Swe) 69 72 69, Jordan Smith 69 71 70, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 74 67 69

211 Robert Macintyre 69 72 70, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 71 69 71, Ashley Chesters 70 73 68, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 70 74 67

212 Sam Horsfield 71 71 70, Shane Lowry 72 71 69, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 70 71 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 72 72 68, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 71 71 70

213 Matt Wallace 65 76 72, Joost Luiten (Ned) 68 72 73, Ashun Wu (Chn) 72 73 68, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 70 73 70, Romain Langasque (Fra) 69 74 70, Aaron Rai 71 70 72, Renato Paratore (Ita) 71 71 71, Haotong Li (Chn) 71 72 70, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 71 73 69, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 72 72 69

214 Julian Suri (USA) 71 74 69, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 71 72 71, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 73 71 70

215 Tony Finau (USA) 70 68 77, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 70 75, Tommy Fleetwood 70 75 70, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 70 75 70

216 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 73 72 71, Chris Wood 70 75 71, Russell Knox 69 71 76

217 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 70 72 75, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 73 71 73, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) 69 74 74, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 73 66 78, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 70 74 73, Gavin Green (Mal) 72 73 72

218 Steven Brown 69 75 74, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 71 74 73, Matthew Fitzpatrick 73 71 74

219 Andrea Pavan (Ita) 68 76 75, George Coetzee (Rsa) 68 72 79

220 Ernie Els (Rsa) 68 76 76, Ian Poulter 73 70 77, Alvaro Quiros (Esp) 69 75 76, Scott Jamieson 68 77 75, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 71 74 75, Pádraig Harrington 73 72 75

221 Robert Coles 71 74 76, Andy Sullivan 71 74 76, Sebastian Soderberg (Swe) 68 77 76, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 76 69 76

222 David Law 75 69 78, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 69 76 77

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