FORMER WORLD NUMBER one Rory McIlroy looked to heap pressure on the final group in the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai with a blistering start to his final round on Sunday.
A third-round five-under-par 67 on Saturday put McIlroy into a share of fourth place, six shots behind leader Dustin Johnson of the United States, three behind Ian Poulter of England and two behind fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.
“You need a fast start on this golf course,” McIlroy told AFP after moving to 12-under par for the tournament.
McIlroy is not in the final group on Sunday and will play alongside Justin Rose of England and Canada’s Graeme Delaet.
Asked whether he could turn the situation to his advantage by moving quickly up the board to join the leaders, the world number six, who is yet to win a tournament this year, replied: “Yeah definitely.”
“If they see me coming then hopefully I can put a bit of pressure on them and make them think about it a bit more.”
McIlroy shot nine-under par 63 at the same Sheshan Golf Club course in 2009 and believes he will need to score the same, or even lower, to have a chance of the title on Sunday.
“You look at guys like Ian (Poulter), Martin (Kaymer) and G-Mac (McDowell) who shot 62, 63, 64 today. Obviously it’s out there if you can take advantage of the holes you really should.
“The par fives, some of the short par fours in particular, holes seven and eight, they are ones you can score on. And there are some chances coming in on the back nine.”
The 24-year-old did concede that his game was still a little off its very best, even if he were to get back in the winners’ circle this week.
“I’m giving myself plenty of chances for birdies and I’m up there contending in a WGC, so it’s good signs,” said McIlroy. “Still a little bit of work to do on a few areas of the game, but it’s definitely heading in the right direction.”
During Friday’s second round McIlroy bogeyed the 11th hole and then two more on the way in for a back nine of three-over par 39. On Saturday there were no such problems as birdies at 10, 14, 17 and 18 took him to a back nine of 32.
“The back nine was much better,” said McIlroy. “It was good. I wanted to finish strongly so I can go out and have a chance tomorrow.”