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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 27 February 2021

McIlroy lands eight birdies en route to a 66 in Las Vegas

Ulsterman closes in on leaders after a superb third round in Las Vegas on the PGA tour.

Rory McIlroy shot eight birdies today en route to a 66.
Rory McIlroy shot eight birdies today en route to a 66.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

RORY MCILROY REDISCOVERED his form this evening in Las Vegas, where he shot eight birdies to post a six under par total of 66 for his third round at the US PGA Tour’s CJ Cup.

Entering the day 12 shots behind the overnight leader, Xander Schauffele, McIlroy wasted little time reminding everyone of his class. Two birdies on the front nine were interrupted by a bogey at the seventh but then as he turned for home, he found his form, birdying six of the back nine, including four of the last five.

Only a bogey on 13 spoiled his charge – but some of his shots, such as the 136-yard approach at the par-4 10th hole, which landed just seven feet from the hole, were exquisite.

There were other moments of magic – his tee shot at the par three 17th, which secured his seventh birdie of the round.

The difference today was his accuracy off the tee – the stats telling their own story as the Ulsterman hit 11 of 14 fairways, compared to his scores of 57.14 per cent accuracy on Friday and 28.57 per cent accuracy during Thursday’s opening round.

With the leaders still on the course, McIlroy – at 11.30pm Irish time – was seven shots off the lead. Fellow Irishman, Shane Lowry, was tied for 45th after shooting a two-under 70 today, to move seven places up the leaderboard.

The second round concluded with Xander Schauffele holding a three-shot lead.

Schauffele’s 14-under total of 130 saw him vault over first-round leader Tyrrell Hatton, who finished the day in second on 11-under at Shadow Creek.

Schauffele, coming off a fifth-place finish at the US Open, started on No. 10 and shot 29 on his front nine, stringing together six birdies from the 13th through the 18th.

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He then cooled coming in, but still finished with a bogey-free round. 

“I got off to a hot start and kind of slowed down. But I am just happy I made that par putt on the last,” said Schauffele. 

“Got a little bit stale there on the other side. The pace of play slowed down a lot. It was kind of hot and easy to let the mind wander. I am upset I didn’t make more birdies, but pleased I didn’t make any bogeys.”

England’s Hatton, who is coming off a European Tour win last weekend, shot 66 for 133.

American Russell Henley was alone in third after shooting a 68 for 134 and Talor Gooch sits fourth following a 65 for a nine-under 135.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the CJ Cup to be played in the United States – rather than South Korea – this year.

Hatton had a mixed round of seven birdies, three bogeys and eight pars on Friday, but managed to close out his round with two straight birdies.

“It was an inconsistent day. Obviously I was disappointed with bogeys,” Hatton said. “Finishing birdie-birdie was nice and hopefully I can take a bit of momentum going into the weekend.”

Defending champion Justin Thomas, who won the event last year on Jeju Island, shot a 66 and was tied for eighth with four others at six-under 138

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