McIlroy makes his move as Watson pulls clear

3/10/2012 8:36:53 PM
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy gave another demonstration of his enormous talent but still found himself seven shots adrift of leader Bubba Watson in Miami.

The new World Number One charged from 28th place to second by playing the first 12 holes of his WGC-Cadillac Championship third round in a staggering nine under par.

But after an eagle and seven birdies McIlroy then bogeyed the 14th and 16th and the 22 year old eventually signed for a 65.

While those two late errors hindered his hopes of making it two successive victories following the Honda Classic triumph last weekend which took him to top of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time, McIlroy was still pleased to have put himself in contention.

“It would have been nice to post 61,62 or whatever, but at least I've put myself back into the tournament and given myself a chance to post a high finish,” said McIlroy.

“I played some good golf which is great, and I also putted better, which was nice. I was 74th out of 74 in putting after the second round, so I needed to improve on that a little bit. I think I had ten putts through the first nine holes, which was a big improvement! And I hit fairways, which was the key.

“That's what I need to do tomorrow again. This course is so much easier when you put your ball in the fairway.”

Having closed the gap on overnight leader Watson from ten shots to one the gap became six when the American left-hander started his round birdie-eagle to reach 15 under par.

McIlroy was back into a tie for sixth and alongside Tiger Woods, second to him at Palm Beach Gardens last weekend after a closing 62.

Woods made his presence felt as well by opening with three straight birdies and then grabbing another on the sixth.

But two holes later the former Number One fluffed a chip from the rough into the bunker in front of him and ran up a bogey six.

Englishman Justin Rose was maintaining his challenge - second overnight and only one behind Watson, with whom he had played the first two rounds as well, Rose two-putted the long first for birdie and added another from nine feet at the third.

Then came a bogey on the fifth, however, and Watson, having three-putted the previous green, had a tap-in birdie there to return to 15 under and three in front.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson was also firmly in contention, a one under par front nine enough to take the Ryder Cup star to ten under and a share of sixth.

McIlroy went to the turn despite par fives on the first and eighth. 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 holing from 14 feet on the short ninth he converted a 17 foot eagle chance at the next and chipped to four feet at the 12th to add yet another birdie.

Woods had a remarkable par on the ninth, hitting into the lake and then holing his pitch, but after a birdie on the tenth he had his second bogey six of the round.

That came after driving into the trees down the 11th and taking a penalty drop. It sent him to eight under and nine behind Watson, who made further birdies at the seventh and eighth and led his closest challenger Rose by four.

Rose reduced what had been a five stroke gap on the eighth green to just one with a hat-trick of birdies, Watson helping him by three-putting again at the ninth.

Dane Thomas Björn was nine under and joint ninth with seven to play - and had still not had a bogey all week.

Rose caught Watson with an eight foot putt for a fourth successive birdie at the 11th, but Watson was the one to pick up a shot on the long next.

Woods achieved a rare birdie at the treacherous 18th, hitting his approach to three feet, and with a 68 was alongside McIlroy on nine under, but eight behind.