McIlroy shines before the storm

8/11/2012 9:04:39 PM
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy charged to the top of the leaderboard before play had to be suspended for the day in the US PGA Championship third round at Kiawah Island.

McIlroy birdied five of the first eight holes - and saved a remarkable par after his ball stuck in a tree - but with a bogey on the ninth retreated to the clubhouse level with Vijay Singh and one ahead of Australian Adam Scott.

That was because of an approaching thunderstorm along the South Carolina coast. The action was halted at 1650 and at 1830 it was announced that play would not resume until Sunday morning.

Tiger Woods had resumed as joint leader with Singh, at 49 trying to become golf's oldest-ever Major Champion, and Carl Pettersson, but things started going wrong when he missed a three foot birdie chance at the 390 yard first.

He followed by hooking into the crowd off the next tee, a man being given a signed glove after being struck by the ball, and made further bogeys at the short fifth and 579 yard seventh, where he played three of his six shots off sand. That left him on one under, five adrift, and he was down into a tie for 11th.

Scott is only three weeks on, of course, from his four-bogey finish to The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where he was on course for his first major title, but then lost by one to Ernie Els.

McIlroy had contacted the 31 year old to console him, having had his own collapse at the Masters Tournament last year before hitting back to win the very next Major.

Scott had the chance to do the same after also going to the turn in 32 - a front nine completed with a 45 foot putt.

McIlroy's drama at the third had come after starting with back-to-back birdies.

The Northern Irishman was involved in a search for his ball and it needed a television replay to show that it had lodged eight feet off the ground.

Having reached up to retrieve the ball, he took a penalty drop, pitched on to seven feet and made it to save par.

“It was a great start, the start that I was looking to get off to,” said McIlroy.

“I saw that a few guys early in the day got off to good starts and I wanted to try to do that, too. 

“To be four under through nine is a great position to be in.

“It's nice going into the final day, hopefully, if we get it finished, in a great position. And it being 27 holes, I definitely don't mind. I don't mind if it takes a while to get done.” 

Earlier England's Justin Rose and David Lynn and Irishman Padraig Harrington all leapt out of the pack by going to the turn in 32.

Rose began only 47th after his 79 yesterday and climbed all the way to seventh before undoing a lot of his great work over the closing stretch.

Runner-up with Paul Casey in the 2003 World Cup at the course, Rose bogeyed the 12th, missed the green at the short 17th and three-putted the last for a third bogey, a 70 and two over aggregate.

Harrington then double-bogeyed the tenth, but holed out from the sand at the short 17th.

He just had time to par the last for a 69 and one under total before the sirens sounded around the course.

Lynn, with one win in 370 European Tour starts, was finally playing his first Major in America and making the most of it. With a 68 he was alongside Harrington in joint 11th.

Europeans were everywhere on the leaderboard - Swede Pettersson was alone in fourth on four under and Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Peter Hanson shared seventh at two under, while Welshman Jamie Donaldson was another on one under and still had nine to play.