* 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 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
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
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)