UPDATE 1-Golf-McIlroy closes in on world number one spot

Sun Mar 4, 2012 5:58am IST

Stocks

   

* McIlroy has two stroke lead

* Win would make him number one

* Tiger fails to make a move (Adds detail, quotes)

By Simon Evans

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida March 3 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy took a big step towards gaining the number one spot in the world rankings, grabbing a two stroke lead ahead of Sunday's final round of the Honda Classic.

The Northern Irishman shot a four-under par 66 in windy conditions on Saturday, recovering from successive bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes to produce three birdies on the back nine with some of his characteristically confident golf.

"It was another very solid day out there," he said. "I'm very happy, obviously, with the position I'm in and I just need to try and keep doing the same things tomorrow."

McIlroy, who can take over the top spot from Englishman Luke Donald only with a victory, finished with a birdie on the 18th hole, coming out of sand a little too strongly and then draining a 12-foot putt from the opposite fringe.

The 22-year-old from Holywood stands at 11-under par for the tournament and has a great chance of getting to the pinnacle of the global rankings for the first time.

"I have to really stay in the present, stay in the moment and not think about everything else that could happen, whether it be going to number one or winning my first tournament (here)," he said. "I've just got to go out there and try to put a good number on the board."

But McIlory conceded it would be tough to keep his mind free of the prospect of being number one.

"It might be a little bit difficult. It might creep in every now and again but if you can keep it out for the majority of the time, I think it is the best thing to do, " he said.

Americans Harris English and Tom Gillis were two strokes behind McIlroy while Englishman Justin Rose and Americans Keegan Bradley, the PGA Championship winner, and Brian Harman, who smashed the course record on Friday, were a further two strokes back.

English, a 22-year-old rookie, will play in McIlroy's group along with journeyman Gillis.

"I think it is going to be fun. Two 22-year-olds and a 43-year-old," said Gillis.

"Hopefully they don't walk too fast and I can catch them up," he said.

Tiger Woods, looking to make up ground, could only manage a one-under 69, leaving him well back, nine shots off McIlroy.

"I was close to hitting a good one today," he said. "I hit it good, putted good. Boy it was really close to being a really low round."

The weather forecast for PGA National on Sunday calls for possible thunderstorms, so the final round will begin early with threesomes going off the first and 10th tees. (Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Gene Cherry)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Premier League

Premier League

Leicester fight back to beat Man United 5-3, Spurs lose.  Full Article 

Hanging up Boots

Hanging up Boots

Emotional Li Na says has no regrets over retirement.  Full Article 

Lampard in Action

Lampard in Action

Lampard stuns Chelsea in draw, United lose 5-3.  Full Article 

Past Glory

Past Glory

Interview: Spain should not dump tiki-taka, says Capdevila.  Full Article 

Defensive Problems

Defensive Problems

Glaring defensive limitations undermine United's hopes.  Full Article 

Euro 2020

Euro 2020

London's Wembley stadium to host climax of Euro 2020.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage