Rory McIlroy said it was about time he won in Scotland for the first time as he took a narrow lead into the final round of the Scottish Open.
The Northern Irishman’s 67 on Saturday kept the halfway leader out in front at the Renaissance Club on 13 under par, with South Korea’s Tom Kim a shot behind and Tommy Fleetwood and Brian Harman another stroke further back.
World number one Scottie Scheffler and former British Open champion Shane Lowry are in a five-way tie for fifth on 10 under.
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Tee times were brought forward several hours on Sunday in a bid to counter winds forecasted to be up to 40 mph.
The 34-year-old McIlroy, who will return next week to the scene of his only British Open triumph at Hoylake in 2014 — the last of his four major wins — made a fine start on Saturday by going through the first 10 holes in four under.
But he covered the last eight in one over as the top 17 players ended the day separated by just five shots.
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“I felt like I played really good golf for those first 11 holes and made that first bogey on 12 and it was a little scrappy coming in from there,” McIlroy said.
“But overall another solid day’s play and (I) put myself into a great position going into the final day.
“There’s a lot of great players behind me but it’s going to be difficult for everyone. When the wind gets like that there’s a lot of skill involved but it’s also just attitude and trying to stay upbeat when you’re probably going to get bad breaks here and there.
“The guy with the best attitude is going to have the best chance.”
McIlroy, asked about the prospect of winning on Scottish soil for the first time, replied: “It would be great. I’ve had a lot of close calls in Opens and Dunhill Links and all sorts of stuff, but it would be fantastic.
“I remember playing my first Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in 2005. It’s nice to reminisce and I’ve come a long way since then, but 18 years is too long for me to not pick up a trophy in this country.”
Fleetwood posted a fine round of 63 on Saturday, matching his impressive closing score at the US Open, thanks to eight birdies and a lone bogey in North Berwick, where he finished fourth last year and lost out in a play-off in 2020.
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