Rory McIlroy seems to have everything going his way at Bay Hill in Orlando except for recent history.
With three birdies over the last four holes, McIlroy had a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday that left him one shot behind Matt Fitzpatrick and in the final group of a PGA Tour event for the third time in five starts this year, and the ninth time dating to the start of 2018.
That’s a sign of consistently good play.
There’s also some frustration from not having won from the final group since the Irish Open in 2016.
And by the look of Bay Hill in the warm, late afternoon — greens that looked yellow, fairways feeling tighter in such firm conditions — it won’t be any easier.
“Just what I needed,” McIlroy said. “I did everything I needed to do today to get myself back in the golf tournament, and excited to have another chance tomorrow.”
Fitzpatrick managed to avoid bogeys on a Bay Hill course so firm he could barely find any pitch marks on the greens Saturday. It led to a 5-under 67 as he goes for his first PGA Tour title.
Photo: Michael Cohen / Getty Images
Image 1 1
He was at 9-under 207, which spoke to the difficulty of a fast course that would have made Arnie proud. It was the highest 54-hole score to lead at Bay Hill since Ben Crenshaw was at 210 in 1993.
Fifteen players were within five shots of the lead.
Champions: Fran Quinn birdied three of the final holes in breezy conditions for a 4-under 67 and a three-stroke lead in the Hoag Classic in Newport Beach (Orange County). David Toms and Australia’s David McKenzie were tied for second. Toms had his second straight 67, and McKenzie shot 66.
European: Oliver Wilson of England grabbed the sole lead of the Qatar Masters in Doha by shooting a 3-under 69 in the third round despite making his first bogey of the tournament. Wilson finished with a birdie on the 18th for a 10-under total of 206, putting him one shot clear of four players, including second-round leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera of France, who shot a 71.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/golf/article/Matt-Fitzpatrick-takes-1-shot-lead-over-Rory-13676675.php.