Rory McIlroy leads WGC-HSBC Champions heading into final round

McIlroy closed day two one shot behind Matthew Fitzpatrick but capitalised as the Englishman slipped from the top of the leaderboard on Saturday

Rory McIlroy leads WGC-HSBC Champions heading into final round

Rory McIlroy claimed the outright lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China with a third successive five-under round of 67.

McIlroy closed day two one shot behind Matthew Fitzpatrick but capitalised as the Englishman slipped from the top of the leaderboard on Saturday, finishing with a birdie to head into the final round with a one-stroke advantage over Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 65.

For the second day running McIlroy hit the turn in 33, but he went bogey-free for the first time this week and added two birdies on the back nine.

Oosthuizen opened his round with five birdies in pursuit of a maiden World Golf Championships title, while Fitzpatrick dropped to third, two shots off McIlroy alongside Xander Schauffele of the United States.

England’s Paul Waring is a shot further back in fifth.

Despite holding the lead, McIlroy saw plenty of room for improvement in his round.

“I feel like I weathered a mini-storm at the start,” he said. “After that, the round started to get going and I hit some good shots and held some good putts.

But I gave myself plenty of chances – a lot of chances from between 15 and 20 feet, so you’re not expecting to hole all of them – but I hit a lot of good putts today that didn’t go in.

“I stayed patient, I birdied the holes that I needed to birdie and I built a very gradual round. No bogeys, which was nice, but just kept plugging away trying to give myself chances.

“If I go out tomorrow and replicate what I’ve done the first three days, I think I’ll be pretty hard to beat.”

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