Late surge takes Rory McIlroy into the lead in Memphis

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Rory McIlroy birdied four of his final five holes to card a fine eight-under par 62 and open up a one-shot lead at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.

Just over a week on from missing the cut at the Open at Portrush, the Northern Irishman, who had started the day five shots off the lead, registered nine birdies and a bogey as he moved to 12 under in Memphis.

The world number three opened what was the joint-lowest round of the week with a birdie, added another on the third and then three in a row from the seventh, before finishing strong.

World number one Brooks Koepka is second after the American produced a round of 64 featuring seven birdies and one bogey.

“It is exciting,” McIlroy told the European Tour. “He’s (Koepka) the number one player in the world, four majors in the last three years, he’s the man right now.

“I got to play with him the last couple of days and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing what he can do.

“The last four missed cuts that I’ve had, I’ve finished first, second, first and 12th, I’m a quick learner. We’re very fortunate in golf that there’s always next week, you can respond so quickly from setbacks and failures.

“Tomorrow’s a new day. Whatever happened today is great but I’ve got to reset and try and go again tomorrow. I think it’s nice that I’ve seen some really good golf and I’ve seen some putts fall.

“I don’t know if it gives you momentum but it gives you confidence going forward.”

Overnight leader Matt Fitzpatrick lies third, one stroke behind Koepka, after a 69.

The Englishman bounced back from a double-bogey on the 12th and bogeys on the 13th and 15th by making successive birdies on the 16th and 17th.

When asked if he was pleased with how he fought back at the end, Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports: “Yes, definitely.

“I felt like I played pretty solid, certainly the front nine, lots of fairways and greens. I struggled a little bit in the middle of the back nine, but to get it back under par I felt was probably fair.”

Australia’s Marc Leishman, Sweden’s Alex Noren and Spain’s Jon Rahm are tied in fourth at nine under.

Fitzpatrick’s compatriot Ian Poulter is among a trio a shot further back, along with Thorbjorn Olesen of Norway and US player Billy Horschel.

And another Englishman, Tommy Fleetwood, is one of four players on seven under. He is joined by Americans Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Watch The Open champion Shane Lowry hail 'one of the best' in Rory McIlroy

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Reaction from Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, who finished six shots clear of runner-up Tommy Fleetwood at Royal Portrush on Sunday to clinch his maiden major title.

The 32-year-old Irishman held on through a wet and windy day as he was roared on by the crowd.

Lowry entered the day with a four-stroke lead. He shot one-over 72 and finished with a 15-under 269 total.

It was the second time Lowry had gone into the final round of a major with a four-stroke lead, but he ended up in a tie for second at the 2016 U.S. Open after shooting a six-over 76.


There was never any major scare on Sunday at the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951. Fleetwood got within three strokes after the first hole but never got any closer, finishing with a three-over 74.








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Francesco Molinari hopes Northern Irish energy will galvanise his Open title defence

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Defending champion Francesco Molinari hopes to harness some of the energy of a Northern Irish crowd celebrating the return of the Open after 68 years in much the same way he did at the Ryder Cup.

The Italian was the standout player at Le Golf National last September, triumphant in all five of his matches and securing the point which won back the trophy.

One of the quietest, most unassuming players on tour, Molinari admits playing to the gallery is something which is alien to him but he hopes being the last winner of the Claret Jug and a Ryder Cup hero will provide a reciprocal benefit when he arrives at Royal Portrush next week.

“It is going to be an historic Open Championship for many reasons, which is even more reason for me to go there and just try to enjoy the experience and use the energy of the crowd for the week,” he said.

“You just try to get a feel for the people and that is something I did well at the Ryder Cup – it is not something which is natural to me, recognising how much they appreciate my game.”

Conversely, however, Molinari is playing down the defence of his Claret Jug.

Wary of the amount of additional time is required from returning champion means the Italian has deliberately reduced his schedule in the weeks running up to the event.

Asked about the change, which has not seen him play since the Travelers Championship at the end of June Molinari said: “Recognising that going into a tournament as a defending champion is different and especially a major.

“I’m not going to play as much as I did last year, save as much energy as possible for the week.

“I think it is trying to keep the expectations down – it is a different experience to be there as defending champion, hopefully that is not the only time in my career when that happens.”

Molinari could have arrived in Portrush as a two-time major winner had things gone better for him at Augusta where he led the Masters going into the final day and was two clear with seven holes remaining only to collapse and hand victory to Tiger Woods.

It was a chastening experience for the likeable Italian, who found the water twice on the back nine.

“It was a very different situation when you are leading. I fought well on the front nine without having my A-game, then unfortunately just a couple of mistakes on the back nine,” he added.

“It was the first time really I was leading a major on the Sunday.

“During the last round at Carnoustie (when he won the Open) Tiger made a run on the front nine, then made a couple of mistakes.

“I made a birdie on 14 and it was so late in the tournament you don’t have time to think about it, it was just four holes to go.”

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