Shanghal Open: McIlroy edging closer to richest prize in golf
Rory McIlroy extended his advantage at the halfway point of the race to win the richest first prize in golf.
Going into yesterday's third round, the Ulsterman held a two-stroke lead with the $2m Shanghai Masters jackpot in his sights.
After a bogeyless opening 64, McIlroy struggled on the front nine at the Lake Malaren course, bogeying the fourth hole.
The 22-year-old then hit his drive into the water on the par-four ninth and took a double-bogey to drop back into a four-way share of the lead.
But McIlroy recovered with four birdies on the back nine to record a 69 to stand at 11-under. “I liked the birdie on the 18th, and had a good back nine,” said McIlroy. “To shoot four birdies kept me going.”
“On the ninth I hit my tee shot into the water and tried to make par to recover but ended up with a double.
“I know my 64 from yesterday has already been replaced by Noh and his 63, but I will try hard to keep hitting the birdies needed to win this weekend.”
His closest pursuer is the Korean Noh Seung-yul, 20, who recorded the lowest round of the event, conjuring nine birdies for a 63.
Three birdies in the last four vaulted him from joint 18th place to second. Lee Westwood is six back from McIlroy after a two-under 70.
Noh, ranked 95th in the world, achieved his biggest victory to date at the Malaysian Open last year, where he become the second-youngest winner in European Tour history.
He is also a former Asian Tour rookie of the year.
Anthony Kim of the United States (68) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (66) are a stroke behind Noh at eight under, followed by Padraig Harrington (70) and American Hunter Mahan (72).
Mahan, who was in second place after the opening round, also had trouble on the front nine, bogeying twice and holing just one birdie.
He was at one under for the day until bogeying the 18th hole to finish at even par.
Poulter and Robert Karlsson (69) are six under, and John Daly followed his opening 69 with a 70 to match Westwood, Colin Montgomerie (69) and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (69) at five under.
Meanwhile, Scotland's Richie Ramsay dug deep to preserve a two-stroke advantage going into the closing 36 holes of the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama.
But the 28-year-old from Aberdeen may well have to fight off the challenge of back-to-form Sergio Garcia if he is to land his second European Tour title.
Having started with a brilliant 65, Ramsay is now five under par after a two-birdie, three-bogey 72.
Driving into the rough cost him a shot on the 454-yard 18th, but France's Gregory Havret bogeyed the hole too to reach halfway on three under.
Garcia is one further back after a second successive 70 on a layout where he has been a runner-up three times.
“Going up against one of your idols on a course, this is a dream situation,” said Ramsay.
“It was a really tough day and I hung in there. It just illustrates how good my six under round was.”
Defending champion Graeme McDowell’s woes continued as he lies nine shots behind Ramsay after firing a second successive round of 73.
The Portrush man is four over after a round which included four birdies and six bogeys.
Gareth Maybin is set to miss the cut after a 76 left him nine over while Walker Cup player Paul Cutler carded a 77 to lie further back on 11 over.