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McIlroy stretches lead

Lee Westwood picked up where he left off on Saturday, but Rory McIlroy responded with an opening birdie of his own and led the US Open at Congressional by an incredible nine shots.

After a third-round 65 that was the lowest round of his major career, Westwood pitched to four feet to move alongside Korean YE Yang in second place at six-under-par, but in the group behind McIlroy - despite driving into the edge of a divot - hit his approach to nine feet and made no mistake to go to 15 under.

It kept the 22-year-old firmly on course to become the youngest winner of the title since Bobby Jones in 1923, the second successive Northern Irish champion and Europe's second youngest major champion after Young Tom Morris nearly 140 years ago.

Two months after his closing 80 from four ahead at The Masters, McIlroy had set 36 and 54-hole scoring records already and needed only a one-over-par 72 to establish a new tournament mark, while the record under par mark for the tournament was the 12 under of Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000.

One player they did not have to worry about was five-time runner-up Phil Mickelson. His championship was over before McIlroy had teed off - and a closing double bogey said it all really.

Mickelson was seven over and not even in the top 50. After a disappointing 27th place at The Masters in April the world number five's hopes of ever making it to number one were slipping further over the horizon.

He played the first two rounds with McIlroy, was out-scored by 12 shots and then crashed to a Saturday 77.

Luke Donald also double-bogeyed the 18th - for the third time in the week - but a 69 lifted him to five over and meant Westwood almost certainly needed to finish second to take back the world number one spot he lost to Donald in a play-off at Wentworth three weeks ago.

McIlroy had not three-putted all week - and he kept it that way after leaving his 45-foot birdie attempt on the short second seven feet short.

Westwood had missed a 15-foot chance on the same green and did the same at the 466-yard third, while Yang's two pars kept the gap - the chasm more like - at nine.


From Belfast Telegraph