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Rory McIlroy enters final day in Palm Beach two ahead

Updated: Sunday, 02 Mar 2014 09:11 | Comments

Rory McIlroy in action during the third round of The Honda Classic in Palm Beach
Rory McIlroy in action during the third round of The Honda Classic in Palm Beach

Rory McIlroy moved to within touching distance of his first PGA Tour title since 2012 as his third-round 69 sent him into the final day of the Honda Classic with a two-shot lead.

McIlroy had his least convincing round of the week at Palm Beach, mixing four birdies with three bogeys but his performance was enough to put him 12 under, two clear of American Russell Henley.

Scotland's Russell Knox was third on nine under after matching Henley's 68, with Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas one back in fourth, while another Briton, Luke Donald, was among four men sharing fifth on seven under.

McIlroy had some frustrating near misses with putter in hand, but he said afterwards: "I'm happy to maintain the lead I had, to extend it by a shot and shoot under par.

"It was tricky conditions, the wind was stronger than it has been all week. I think anything under par, especially if you were in the last few groups, was a good score."

"If you can limit the damage as much as possible I think that's the key, especially when conditions are like this" - Rory McIlroy

McIlroy was not quite at his best, missing a couple of short putts and also requiring a drop at the seventh when he escaped with a bogey which could have been much worse.

He also suffered some misfortune, though, with excellent putts at 17 and 18 which just did not drop.

"If I can just keep hitting the fairways and hitting the greens sooner or later they're going to drop for me," he said.

Looking ahead to his final round, McIlroy said he was looking for "more of the same. I'm two ahead. This course is all about putting your ball in play, trying not to make mistakes, picking up birdies when you can.

"If you can limit the damage as much as possible I think that's the key, especially when conditions are like this."

Henley's round was highlighted by an eagle at the 14th, when he holed from 150 yards.

Tiger Woods produced a 65 in calmer conditions earlier in the day to shoot up the leaderboard at five under, but Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge, second overnight, had a nightmare day with a 76 that dropped him down to a share of 24th.

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