Irish pair gunning for glory
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will look to defend a one-shot lead in the final round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are determined to land the biggest titles of their careers as Ireland look to defend a slender one-shot lead in the final round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
World number 10 McIlroy and McDowell, ranked 51st, combined to card an eight-under-par 64 in Saturday’s third round fourballs to charge to an impressive 26 under overall and remain on course for a wire-to-wire victory.
But heading into Sunday’s final round alternate-shot foursomes, the duo hold their smallest overnight advantage of the week after Italy and defending champions Sweden closed the gap to leave the title seemingly remaining in Europe with a further five shots to Japan and South Africa.
“I think if everything was to go to plan and we were to win tomorrow, it would definitely be the biggest highlight of my golfing career so far,” said McIlory, who claimed his maiden career title in Dubai earlier this year to kickstart his meteoric rise up the world rankings.
“It’s very special to win an event, but to win it with a partner and to win it with a friend would make it even more special.
“It’s the World Cup of golf. You’re competing against world champions in a way. Anything with world in the title seems to be pretty important.”
The Swedish duo of Robert Karlsson and Players Championship winner Henrik Stenson have yet to drop a shot this week after shipping just two in last year’s success, and continued their ominous challenge with a 10-under-par 62.
They are joined on 25 under by Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo, who combined for an 11-under 61 in their third consecutive World Cup appearance as a pair.
McIlroy, 20, and 30-year-old McDowell failed to reach the heights of Thursday’s brilliant 14 under par in the opening-round fourballs to see their advantage slip and are well aware of Sweden’s history after Stenson and Karlsson shot a 63 in the final round foursomes last year.
“It was an exceptional score from the Swedes last year. I’m sure they are going to be going out there tomorrow feeling like they can go low,” said McDowell, who finished 16th last year with Paul McGinley.
“We are just going to have to play our game, and if it means reacting to some scoring on the back nine, we’ll do that. But we will create enough chances.
“We probably played good enough to shoot 64, 65 yesterday, if we had not made a couple of stupid mistakes down the stretch (en route to four-under-par 68).”
Last year, Sweden sat four adrift heading into the final round before charging through the field in the traditionally testing alternate-shot format.
“We have the recipe from last year with a 63 in the foursome, if we can get anything close to that tomorrow, I think we have a good chance,” said world number eight Stenson.
“Ireland played great today. We were just throwing punches back and forth. I’m very pleased that we managed to creep a little bit closer and close the gap a little bit.”
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