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'I'll be hard to beat': Rory McIlroy targets third World Golf Championship win after seizing third round lead

Rory McIlroy carded three 67s in his opening three rounds at Sheshan International Golf Club.
Rory McIlroy carded three 67s in his opening three rounds at Sheshan International Golf Club.
Rory McIlroy is the solo leader going into the final round in Shanghai.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Rory McIlroy knows that if he can continue his form from the opening three days of the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions event, he will be tough to beat on Sunday in Shanghai.

The world number two carded a blemish-free 67 on Saturday, his third successive round of five under par to sit -15 for the week and one clear of Louis Oosthuizen.

Xander Schauffele and overnight leader Matthew Fitzpatrick are a shot further back with Paul Waring also chasing in a packed leaderboard.

McIlroy picked up early birdies at the par five second and the par three sixth before taking on a tight pin at the ninth to set up a birdie three. With the flag tucked close to the water, McIlroy went for broke, just clearing the hazard and draining the putt to tie for the lead at the midway point.

He made full use of the par fives on the back nine to get clear of the chasing pack, picking up birdies at both the 14th and the 18th.

Coming off the course, McIlroy seemed in confident mood ahead of Sunday's final round.

"If I go out tomorrow and replicate what I've done the first three days, I think I'll be pretty hard to beat," he said.

"I feel like I weathered a mini-storm at the start," he added of his third round. "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."

McIlroy is aiming for only his third World Golf Championship victory, having previously took the trophy at the 2014 WGC Bridgestone Invitational and then added the 2015 WGC Match Play title.

He's also looking to make up ground on world number one Brooks Koepka, who is out of action with a knee strain.

"I started this year maybe eighth or ninth in the world. If I play well the next few weeks, I'll have a great platform going into next year," he said before this week's event.

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