Mayfair leads, McIlroy four off pace in Quail Hollow

Billy Mayfair remains on course for his first PGA Tour victory since 1998 heading into the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte.

Billy Mayfair remains on course for his first PGA Tour victory since 1998 heading into the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte.

The 43-year-old, who was four under in each of his first two rounds and led at halfway, carded three birdies and two bogeys for a one-under-par round on Saturday to leave him two shots ahead of Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson after 54 holes in North Carolina.

Mayfair, whose last title was the 1998 Buick Open, told pgatour.com: “It’s fun getting the heart pumping.

“It’s fun to get out there and hear the crowds roaring for you, and when you make a good putt, you make a birdie, you say to yourself, dang, I did that, and I’m back to playing the way I want to play again.

“When you haven’t won in a long time, you start doubting yourself a little bit and maybe don’t have the confidence that you should have. Today was a big day for me. To go out there and have the lead and still have the lead going into the fourth round on Sunday will give me a lot of confidence and make me sleep a little bit better tonight and know that if I just go out there and play well, I’ve got a great chance of winning.”

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is four shots off the lead after a third-round 66. McIlroy has missed the cut in his last two events in the United States, including the Masters at Augusta following rounds of 74 and 77.

But the 20-year-old, who turns 21 on Tuesday, looked back to his best with a round containing nine birdies and three bogeys which lifted him from joint 48th overnight to a share of seventh on five under.

“It was a great round of golf, I played really really well,” McIlroy said. “I feel as if I’ve been hitting it well the last couple of weeks and not getting much out of it but today I knocked a few putts in and gave myself plenty of chances.

“It’s a bit disappointing to bogey the last but 66 is a great score out there and puts me in a nice position going into tomorrow.

“Ten or 11 under will lead at the end of the day so if I’m within five I’ve got a good chance, but I’m just happy to be where I’m at because the last couple of months have been a struggle.

“It’s just nice to shoot a good round and get myself into some sort of contention going into Sunday.”

Asked to explain what has turned his game around, McIlroy added: “I’ve had to put a lot of work in.

“I had a little bit of a back injury. It’s still there but getting a lot better and I feel I can swing with a lot more freedom now and actually practice more and spend a bit more time on the range which has definitely helped.

“I put my old trusty putter back in the bag on Friday night which helped, my pace was pretty good out there today. Hopefully I can do the same on Sunday.”

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