Stage set for marathon Sunday

12/08/2012 12:35:25
Will McIlroy still be on top of the board come close of play Sunday?  (Getty Images)
Will McIlroy still be on top of the board come close of play Sunday? (Getty Images)

The home stretch; the final hurdle. With 27 holes to play on a marathon Sunday, the stage is set for Rory McIlroy’s sprint to the line as the Northern Irishman goes for gold on Kiawah Island.

After the third round of the 94th US PGA Championship was stopped in its tracks at 1650 on Saturday due to a sizeable storm cell that quickly descended on the South Carolinan island, play was eventually called off at 1830 with just under half the field yet to complete their 54 holes.

On a bright and calm fourth morning of the final Major Championship of the year, there was a mixed forecast ahead with meteorologists predicting some further chance of thunderstorms on Sunday; however, the range was packed as players prepared to resume the action upon the distinctive call of the hooter at precisely 0745 local time.

McIlroy, who had looked in imperious form on Saturday before the postponement, begins the day tied for the lead alongside Fijian Vijay Singh at six under par having played his front nine in four under par and the 23 year old sounded in confident mood at the close of play, undaunted by the prospect of a gruelling final day on the Ocean Course – a layout that has this week proved itself as a real endurance test for the finest golfers on the planet.

Going for his second Major Championship in two seasons, after so spectacularly capturing the US Open title at Congressional in 2011, McIlroy has company at the top in the form of the aforementioned Singh, twice before a US PGA Champion in 1998 and 2004, with Australian Adam Scott looking to immediately bounce back from his Open Championship Major disappointment just a shot back.

Sweden’s Carl Pettersson is four under par for the championship, meanwhile, currently one ahead of America’s Bo Van Pelt – who holds the clubhouse lead after completing his third round with a three under par 213 total – and South Africa’s Trevor Immelman.

The European trio of Peter Hanson, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter are a further shot back, too, and firmly in contention on Sunday.

So as the Olympics prepares to come to a close across the Atlantic in London, the podium awaits for one of these 72 athletes looking for a place in the history books – but to ascend to the top step they will have to overcome not only each other, but the course, the elements, and most of all the mental and physical examination that lies ahead.

Game on.