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Saturday, 10 March 2012
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy was a staggering eight under par for his first ten holes in Miami - and suddenly in contention for a second successive victory.

The 22 year old Northern Irishman, who went to World Number One for the first time by winning the Honda Classic last Sunday, turned in 30 and then rolled home a 17 foot eagle putt at the long tenth in the third round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Having reached halfway in the second of this season's World Golf Championships in 28th place McIlroy was up into a tie for third spot on ten under par and only two behind overnight leader Bubba Watson, who had yet to tee off again following his blistering second-round 62.

That was only one outside the Doral Blue Monster course record, but McIlroy had given himself the chance to match or even better it - and he did so without a birdie on either of the two par fives on the outward nine.

His magical run started with a chip-in from nearly 50 feet at the second and after making a 12 footer on the next he made it five birdies in seven holes with a hat-trick from the fifth.That was courtesy of putts from eight, three and ten feet and, after a par at the 560 yard eighth after driving into sand, he made a 14 foot putt on the short ninth.

McIlroy's putt for eagle at the next was only his 11th of the round and playing partner Graeme McDowell - his close friend and compatriot, of course - could only stand and admire.

Not that he was going badly - McDowell turned in 32 to be six under, six adrift of Watson, who led at halfway by one from England's Justin Rose, himself round in 64 in the second round.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was off and running with a hat-trick of birdies to be up from 15th to sixth and level with Sweden’s Peter Hanson - who was still on the first hole - while World Number Two Luke Donald, who had a chance to regain top spot from McIlroy, birdied the first to stand seven under along with third-ranked Lee Westwood.

After finding the water on the third and double-bogeying, Westwood had five birdies in a row around the turn and then picked up further strokes at the 14th and 15th.

McIlroy was only one behind Watson when he chipped to four feet and went to nine under for the day on the long 12th - but that gap became three when the left-hander opened with a six foot eagle putt.

Watson was playing with Rose for the third day running and the former European Tour Number One two-putted the first to be second on his own again at 12 under.

McIlroy's hopes of the course record realistically ended when he bogeyed the 14th after driving into sand and by dropping another shot at the 16th he slipped six adrift of Watson, who followed his eagle with a birdie on the second.

Rose responded to that by grabbing his second birdie at the next and was only one back again when Watson three-putted the short fourth.

Woods had his fourth birdie on the sixth, but two holes later duffed a chip from the rough into the bunker in front of him and with a bogey six he returned to eight under and seventh place with McIlroy.

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