If someone not named Rory McIlroy is going to win the 2014 Open Championship on Sunday, two things need to happen.
1) That person needs to have the best round of their life.
2) McIlroy has to implode.
The two-time Major winner ranked No. 6 in the world surgically took apart the course at Hoylake for a third straight day on Saturday, shooting a 4-under 68 to drop to 16-under for the tournament after 54 holes.
It looked like McIlroy might fold on Saturday, as Rickie Fowler surged up the leader board and tied McIlroy for the lead after the Irishman bogeyed No. 12.
Fowler’s sprint ended with a bogey on No. 14, a hole that McIlroy drilled a 35-foot birdie putt on two groups later.
He was hardly done, finishing with two eagles in his final three holes to put Fowler back at arm’s length heading into Sunday. The first was on the 577-yard No. 16, the second on the 551-yard No. 18 – McIlroy was the only man to eagle 18 on the day.
If he goes on to win Sunday, he’ll have three of the four Majors under his belt at age 24. Only Tiger Woods and Jack Nickalus have matched that feat in PGA history.
No one in the 121-year history of the Open as a 72-hole course has ever lost a six-shot lead entering the final round.
Fowler has the best shot of tracking McIlroy down although he did himself no favors by bogeying three of the last five holes on Saturday. Fowler is the only player besides McIlroy to shoot under 70 in all three rounds.
Spani’s Sergio Garcia and the US’ Dustin Johnson are tied for third at 9-under. Like Fowler, Garcia made an early push: 3-under on the front nine, but then was even par the rest of the way.
Only two other players are within nine strokes of the lead: France’s Victor Dubuisson at 8-under and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari at 7-under. Both men, along with Italy’s Matteo Manassero, shot 4-under on the day.
World No. 1 Adam Scott is apart of a four-way tie for seventh at 6-under.
One of the only players to actually gain ground on McIlroy on the day was England’s Darren Clarke, who shot a 5-under 67 to reach 5-under. He birdied four of his first five holes, and his last two.
Other familiar faces at 5-under are Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker.
Also shooting a 5-under on the day was the US’ Jordan Spieth, who got under par to 3-under with the effort, jumping up from 56th to tied for 23rd.
He’s two spots ahead of defending champion Phil Mickelson, who shot a 71 to get under par at 1-under.
Race to Dubai leader Thomas Bjorn fell off the map, firing a 76 to drop from 15th to tied for 45th at 1 over, where he is tied with US Open champ Martin Kaymer.
At 2-over are usual contenders Henrik Stenson and Jason Dufner, one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods, who shot a 73 to fall to 3-over. After he birdied No. 1 to drop to 1 over, things got ugly in a hurry as Woods double bogeyed No. 2 and triple bogeyed No. 7.