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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chips out of the rough on the 7th hole during the third day of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Saturday July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Golf: Rory McIlroy builds 6-shot lead at British Open

But he’s “not taking anything for granted” going into final round.

First Published Jul 19 2014 01:58 pm • Last Updated Jul 19 2014 11:33 pm

Hoylake, England • Rory McIlroy looked as though he had just thrown a knockout punch at the British Open, and it was only Saturday.

When he rolled in a 10-foot eagle putt on the final hole for a 4-under 68, he straightened his back, stared defiantly at thousands of fans crammed into the horseshoe arena around the 18th green at Royal Liverpool and lightly pumped his fist.

At a glance

British Open

Sunday, 4 a.m.

TV » ESPN

Saturday’s scores

At Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Hoylake, England

Purse » $9.24 million

Yardage » 7,312; Par » 72

Third round

Rory McIlroy 66-66-68 — 200

Rickie Fowler 69-69-68 — 206

Sergio Garcia 68-70-69 — 207

Dustin Johnson 71-65-71 — 207

Victor Dubuisson 74-66-68 — 208

Edoardo Molinari 68-73-68 — 209

Matteo Manassero 67-75-68 — 210

Adam Scott 68-73-69 — 210

Jim Furyk 68-71-71 — 210

Robert Karlsson 69-71-70 — 210

Charl Schwartzel 71-67-72 — 210

Darren Clarke 72-72-67 — 211

Graeme McDowell 74-69-68 — 211

Justin Rose 72-70-69 — 211

Marc Leishman 69-72-70 — 211

Jimmy Walker 69-71-71 — 211

Marc Warren 71-68-72 — 211

Ryan Moore 70-68-73 — 211

Byeong-Hun An 72-71-69 — 212

Branden Grace 71-72-69 — 212

Stephen Gallacher 70-72-70 — 212

David Howell 72-70-70 — 212

Keegan Bradley 73-71-69 — 213

Kristoffer Broberg 70-73-70 — 213

Chris Kirk 71-74-68 — 213

Shane Lowry 68-75-70 — 213

Brian Harman 72-73-68 — 213

George Coetzee 70-69-74 — 213

Francesco Molinari 68-70-75 — 213

Jordan Spieth 71-75-67 — 213

Ben Martin 71-73-70 — 214

David Hearn 70-73-71 — 214

Louis Oosthuizen 70-68-76 — 214

Phil Mickelson 74-70-71 — 215

Bill Haas 70-72-73 — 215

Angel Cabrera 76-69-70 — 215

Kevin Streelman 72-74-69 — 215

Thongchai Jaidee 72-72-72 — 216

D.A. Points 75-69-72 — 216

Gary Woodland 75-69-72 — 216

Hunter Mahan 71-73-72 — 216

Kevin Stadler 73-72-71 — 216

Hideki Matsuyama 69-74-73 — 216

Kevin Na 76-70-70 — 216

Chris Rodgers 73-71-73 — 217

Martin Kaymer 73-72-72 — 217

Matt Jones 71-74-72 — 217

Thomas Bjorn 70-71-76 — 217

Brandt Snedeker 74-72-71 — 217

Zach Johnson 71-75-71 — 217

Luke Donald 73-73-71 — 217

Jason Dufner 70-74-74 — 218

Gregory Bourdy 75-69-74 — 218

Matt Kuchar 73-71-74 — 218

Chris Wood 75-70-73 — 218

Paul Casey 74-71-73 — 218

Henrik Stenson 72-73-73 — 218

Brooks Koepka 68-77-74 — 219

Stewart Cink 71-75-73 — 219

Thorbjorn Olesen 75-71-73 — 219

Matt Every 75-71-73 — 219

Tiger Woods 69-77-73 — 219

John Senden 71-74-75 — 220

Brendon Todd 73-73-74 — 220

Jason Day 73-73-74 — 220

Koumei Oda 69-77-74 — 220

Rhein Gibson 72-74-74 — 220

Billy Hurley III 73-72-76 — 221

Ryan Palmer 74-71-76 — 221

Jamie McLeary 73-73-75 — 221

Tom Watson 73-73-75 — 221

Charley Hoffman 74-72-76 — 222

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He went from being tied for the lead to six shots ahead of Rickie Fowler in an hour.

And suddenly, the biggest challenge facing the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland was reminding himself that he had one more round left.

McIlroy can’t afford to picture his name etched on the base of that silver claret jug. He can’t think about what it will be like next April to drive down Magnolia Lane at Augusta National with a shot at becoming the sixth player to capture the career Grand Slam.

"I’m not taking anything for granted," McIlroy said.

He knows that from experience, good and bad. He blew a four-shot lead at the Masters in 2011 and shot 80 in the final round. He had an eight-shot lead at the U.S. Open two months later and set two scoring records to win by eight. And just two months ago, McIlroy came from seven shots behind to win by seven.

It looks like a lost cause for Fowler, Sergio Garcia and anyone else trying to chase down a guy who has won both his majors by eight shots. The six-shot lead was the largest at The Open since Tiger Woods led by six at St. Andrews in 2000.

Even so, McIlroy was doing his best to preach caution.

"A lot can happen," he said. "And I’ve been on the right side of it and I’ve been on the wrong side of it. You can’t let yourself think forward.


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You’ve just got to completely stay in the moment, and that’s what I’m going to try to do for all 18 holes tomorrow."

History is on his side.

No one has ever lost a six-shot lead in the 121 years that The Open has been contested over 72 holes. Boy Wonder would not seem to be a candidate.

"What you have with him is he’s just so explosive," Jim Furyk said after a 71 left him 10 shots behind. "He won the U.S. Open by eight shots. He obviously doesn’t have any issue as the front-runner, and has no issue trying to extend that lead, much like Tiger used to."

McIlroy was at 16-under 200.

"If I’m able to go out and get off to a good start, maybe I can put a little bit of pressure on him," Fowler said after a 68. "Because he’s definitely in control of the golf tournament right now."

Fowler tried to do his part on a cloudy Saturday with occasional rain, but not nearly what the R&A expected when it went to a two-tee start of the first time in history. Fowler, who was six shots behind going into the third round, ran off three straight birdies to start the back nine and shared the lead when McIlroy made bogey on No. 12.

It all changed so quickly.



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