Rory McIlroy fires 64 to move into contention at British Masters

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Rory McIlroy fires 64 to move into contention at British Masters

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy fires 64 to move into contention at British Masters

HEDDON-ON-THE-WALL, England – Rory McIlroy looks and sounds like an overworked student about to go on a long, deserved vacation.

Maybe that’s why he’s played his way into contention in the $4 million British Masters.

McIlroy fashioned a bogey-free 64 around the par 70 Close House layout to get to 10 under. He trails Sweden’s Robert Karlsson by two shots.

Karlsson is in pole position to get his 12th European Tour win. The 48-year-old takes a one-shot lead into the final round after posting a 3-under 67.

Ian Poulter, former UAB player Paul Dunne, Richie Ramsay of Scotland, England’s Graeme Storm and 36-hole leader Tyrell Hatton are tied for second on 11 under.

McIlroy is playing his penultimate tournament of the season. Next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is his final event of 2017 before he takes three months off to rehab the nagging rib injury that’s plagued him all year.

The four-time major winner hasn’t won this season. You have to go back to 2008 to find a year when he didn’t win at least one tournament. He had an excuse then: he only turned professional in 2007.

The 28-year-old began the week by saying he wasn’t too concerned if he didn’t win this week or next, which perhaps explains why he’s in freewheel mode.

“I’ve been sort of relaxed since the end of the major season, really,” McIlroy said. “That’s what we really try and get ourselves up for. Once that was over, it was just sort of play what I needed to play until I didn’t have to play anymore.

“It’s just a bonus to be here and shoot some good numbers and give myself a chance.”

The winning habit dies hard. So it was no surprise McIlroy’s competitive juices began to flow early in the third round.

“You get yourself into contention and you start to think about these things (winning). It would be nice. Hopefully I’m in the last half dozen groups tomorrow. It would be nice to feel that again.”

The Northern Irishman began his round with two pars, followed by a birdie at the third. He chipped in for birdie from off the green at the par-3 fifth hole, before adding another on the par-5 sixth.

“I just didn’t make any mistakes the first few of holes,” he said. “I made a couple of mistakes the last few days.

“I sort of went out with a mindset of just fairways and greens and just try to get off to a solid start. The chip in on five was a nice bonus, and then to birdie six to be 3 under through six was a bit different to how it started the first couple of days.

“Once you get off to good start like that you feel better about yourself and you have a bit of momentum. I hit a lot of good shots and gave myself lots of chances.”

He’s got two chances left to get that W to keep his winning streak going, before a long offseason. Don’t be surprised if he freewheels his way to making the British Masters his 14th European Tour win.

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