Bunker Mentality

Lightning strikes with McIlroy on the attack

Bunker Mentality

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the eighth hole during the third round of the US PGA Championship …

The weather has loomed large at this 94th US PGA Championship on the South Carolina coast.

On Thursday it was so benign the players held the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island to ransom. On Friday the wind swirled and the course got its rightful revenge. Saturday was somewhere between, and delivering a fascinating afternoon of golf when the threat of lightning intervened to end play with the leaders halfway through their third rounds.

As the siren sounded two men at opposite ends of their careers topped the leaderboard. Joint overnight leader Vijay Singh had picked up two birdies and made more steady progress to get to six under, while Rory McIlroy had gone on a birdie blitz on his front nine of 32 to join him.

At 49, Singh has a chance to become the oldest winner of a Major championship on Sunday. His second-round 69, in Friday's brutal conditions, was arguably the most impressive of the tournament so far and the big Fijian certainly has the experience to cope with a fuller than usual final day - which will see players finish their third round before starting their fourth.

Despite the fact he's only 23, you'd say the same about McIlroy, too.

The Northern Irishman went on the attack on Saturday and - while he played some wayward shots - he sunk some good putts and looked a model of focus. Most notable was the moment McIlroy's drive at the 3rd got lodged in a tree. He could have panicked, but he calmly took a drop, chipped to inside 10 feet and holed out for par. Easy.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was having one of those frustrating spells we've seen befall him so often since the "transgressions". Friday's red-hot putter went cold and Woods proceeded to drop three shots in four holes before the call of the siren put him out of his misery. At one under and with 11 holes still to play in his third round, Woods is obviously still in contention. But there were signs on Saturday he'd lost the key to whatever he unlocked the day before.

Elsewhere, Adam Scott gathered pace on his road to possible Open redemption. The Australian made four birdies in five holes to close out his front nine, and walked off the course just one shot off the lead.

Graeme McDowell is also well placed. After a disappointing 76 on Friday, he promised to bring his Ryder Cup mentality to the course on Saturday and the result was a scorecard that has him two under for both his round and the tournament. McDowell has seven holes to finish off on Sunday.

Also at two under is Ian Poulter, who gave up a couple of bogeys early on, but clearly has his game face on at Kiawah. Poulter loves the wind and if it blows on Sunday he will go into the day with absolute confidence he can win a first Major. Poulter being Poulter, he'll go into Sunday with absolute confidence whatever the weather, of course.

Others are in the mix too. Carl Pettersson, Bo Van Belt, Steve Stricker and Trevor Immelman have all played themselves into contention and watching things unravel on the final day promises to be as unpredictable as the Kiawah weather.

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